Saturday, August 17, 2013
The Fool superimposes dream-pop vocals against the sort of heavily emotive somber guitars of The Cure, and the result is lovely. The guitars and the surprisingly-active drumming give the music more muscle that you usually hear from dream-poppers, and perhaps this can only be called dream pop because of the thin-as-air vocals. Often the rhythm of the music seems to sway back and forth, at times coming across just as emotive and affecting as the vocals, which are always pretty and occasionally flat-out stunning. I wish I hadn't missed this three years ago.
I found this while searching for their latest album, which was on a list of highly-rated new releases I was reading. It's definitely knee-deep in 90's alt. rock, especially the noisier fare, though it's generally pretty melodic. Sometimes it treads towards the more dreamy side of things, other times really amping up the low end and going for something heavier (the title track does this especially well). For an album that never really does anything especially unusual, I still found this pretty unpredictable and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. There's a sort of reckless abandon to their playing at times, which also appeals to me.
Capital Cities lack the subtlety of some of the better indie dance acts, which may not be an accident. I think these songs are designed to be immediate and to-the-point. They aren't going for textured sounds or complex rhythms, not trying to drop any jaws. This is pop music, and to do it well isn't necessarily an easy thing. I don't think Capital Cities are masters of the style, but there is loads of promise here and a few songs I'll keep in heavy rotation for a while.
The seven subsequent tracks mostly stick within these parameters, sometimes shifting between styles within a song, but it's hard to fault Crash of Rhinos too much. Emo isn't exactly a forward-thinking genre. It's heroes of a decade (or more) ago are placed on pedestals and it's hard to image any of the more recent players of the genre ever reaching similar heights. Most modern bands of this ilk wear their influences on their sleeves and it's probably only because they spent the first four tracks reaching in four distinct directions within the purview of emo, that this thing seemed derivative.
Repeated listens have actually had me liking this more and more, and I suspect that genre enthusiasts who aren't immediately enamored based on these obvious influences may come around once they realize the passion and enthusiasm is there, not to mention the competent playing. The second to last track, "Lean Out", is a meditative pseudo-ballad complete with pianos and hushed vocals, a beautiful outlier on a solid-but-safe album.