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IRM by charlotte gainsbourg

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 8.4         Rolling Stone: 3.5/5         Metacritic: 80         Spin: 3.5/5

 

Released: December 2009
Tracklisting:
  1. Master’s Hands
  2. IRM
  3. Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes
  4. In the End
  5. Heaven Can Wait
  6. Me and Jane Doe
  7. Vanities
  8. Time of the Assassins [LISTEN]

  9. Trick Pony
  10. Greenwich Mean Time
  11. Dandelion
  12. Voyage
  13. La Collectionneuse
  14. Looking Glass Blues

   I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m struggling to make up my mind about Charlotte Gainsbourg. Is she beautiful, or not at all? Is she a great actress, or hardly average? Is she a brilliant singer-songwriter, or just a good faker? I tend to give her the benefit of the doubt, but just when I find myself taken by one of her songs, I can’t help but question the amount of artistic input Gainsbourg can take credit for. I like her voice…earthy, confident, a bit deep. But I fear most congratulations for the upsides to her third and latest, IRM, belong to Beck, who wrote and produced all but one of the album’s tracks (the other not even belonging to Gainsbourg).

   “Master’s Hands” is a smart opener, setting a hushed but itching-to-explode vibe that rings true for much of the album. An airy, acoustic strumming pairs with tribal-esque drumming patterns, a backdrop to Gainsbourg’s bold yet near-whispering vocals until, just after halfway through, she breaks into a haunting escalade of “ooohhs”. Title track “IRM” picks up to a more electronic, chaotic yet vocally subdued tune that doesn’t do much for me melodically but is different enough that it at least shows that originality still resides in Beck’s court.

   Gainsbourg returns to her native French roots with “Le Chat Du Café Des Artistes”, a Jean-Pierre Ferland-written track which is notable, perhaps only, for its dark symphonic landscape, with strings reaching high into minor chords and bringing to mind early villain-themed songs to James Bond soundtracks.

   “Heaven Can Wait” is the true gem of the album, and features the most vocal help from Beck himself. The pair make a fine duet atop slow-paced but near-ragtime piano, corresponding guitar strums and simple, tambourine-led percussion (and eventually a little help from the brass). The unnervingly offbeat video, featuring a dinosaur in a wig in a bathtub, a giant rat being held up at knife point, and an astronaut with pancakes for a head, to name a few scenes, can be seen below.

   “Time of the Assassins” beams for reason only of its chorus, which breaks through from amidst Gainsbourg’s typical lull-you-to-sleep demeanor, the audio spectrum opening wide in all directions, most memorably to include a haunting chorale of “aaahhs” right behind her slightly more optimistic pitch.

   But Beck’s studio magic tricks can’t save every song from the sometimes lackluster performances by Gainsbourg. “Greenwich Mean Time”, for example, sees a cacophony of clinks and clacks combine to form an unsuccessful canvas to Gainsbourg’s megaphone-altered exclamations (her lack of tonal energy, which at this point can be expected, doesn’t help either). In perhaps aiming for some combination of wiser, older and more serious, IRM skips on the more optimistic lifts from songs like “Songs That We Sing” (video here) from her previous 5:55, lifts I found myself longing for.

   I’m sure Charlotte does at least a semi-solid instrumental effort on the album, this more likely than not including much of the guitar work. But it’s IRM‘s idiosyncratic bells and whistles that help create its almost time-and-place altering effect that allow it to stand out in an otherwise bland market, even for Indie music, and Beck may well take the bulk of that credit. But ultimately IRM falls a little flat, serving better as an accent to a day’s moment, than worthy of being the center of the moment itself.

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RIOT ON AN EMPTY STREET by kings of convenience

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 7.3          Rolling Stone: 3.5/5          Metacritic: 71          Spin: N/A

 

Released: June 2004
Tracklisting:
  1. Homesick [LISTEN]

  2. Misread
  3. Cayman Islands
  4. Stay Out of Trouble
  5. Know-How
  6. Sorry or Please
  7. Love Is No Big Truth
  8. I’d Rather Dance With You
  9. Live Long
  10. Surprise Ice
  11. Gold In the Air of Summer
  12. The Build-Up

   In some ways I’m surprised by how few people have heard of Kings of Convenience, and in some ways I’m not. Word of mouth only goes so far for the kind of music the (mostly) duo create, and I certainly wouldn’t have known about them had a friend in college not sent me the tip. But then I listen to an album like Riot on An Empty Street and wonder why when I ask people if they’ve heard of the band, their reply is so often in the negative. As something like a modern-day Simon and Garfunkel, members Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe mix similarly beautiful, acoustic melodies with powerful, introspective lyrics to produce music magic that for them is most clearly present in this album (granted I have yet to truly soak up 2009’s Declaration of Dependence).

   The dreamlike album opens with “Homesick”, the Kings’ most vivid reincarnation of the previous two greats, almost purposefully so with lines like, “…I can’t stop listening to the sound/ Of two soft voices blended in perfection/ From the reels of this record that I’ve found.” Present listens still amaze me at how the combination of nothing but guitar plucking and their two voices can make such a beautiful song. It’s been a necessary inclusion on mix tapes for great friends for years.

   Though it’s their slower songs that really speak to me personally on the album, it’s nice to have a change of pace with more uptempo songs like “Misread”, “Love Is No Big Truth”, and “I’d Rather Dance With You”, most favorably the latter(est?), whose pretty great video speaks to the fun these guys have making their tunes. These songs introduce some nod-your-head strumming, catchy piano riffs, and groovy string accompaniment time to time.

   Two more greats that much be mentioned, both occurring back-to-back and near the album’s end: “Surprise Ice” begins with a throwback, intentional or not, to “The Sound of Silence”, and though perhaps only half as timeless, contains moments that truly pull on your heart and stay with you for those few minutes following. For me, this occurs when the melancholy chorus draws both of their voices together in an almost out-of-nowhere emotion. “Gold In the Air of Summer” is one of those unbelievably chord-simple songs that so easily lends itself to timeless melody and harmonies. It stands out on this otherwise largely same-sounding album by adding a combination of fluttery piano and regal trumpet.

   An added bonus is that we get to hear contributions from the great Feist on a few of the songs, too. For those that need a bit more beat and shuffle in their headphones, Riot On An Empty Street may not suit you so well. But it’s beautiful for what it is: a relaxing, even-tempered escape from an otherwise stressful, uneven-tempered existence

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INFINITE ARMS by band of horses

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 5.3          Rolling Stone: 3.5/5          Metacritic: 69          Spin: 4/5

 

Released: May 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. Factory
  2. Compliments
  3. Laredo
  4. Blue Beard
  5. On My Way Back Home [LISTEN]

  6. Infinite Arms
  7. Dilly
  8. Evening Kitchen
  9. Older
  10. For Annabelle
  11. NW Apt.
  12. Neighbor

   Sometimes a piece of art needs to be judged, in part, by the artist behind the canvas. Just as we may give more credit to a handicapped runner over an able-bodied runner for finishing a marathon, so we must scoff at DaVinci if he were to draw a stick figure.  Band of Horses is a good band. They proved that with their first release Everything All the Time in 2006, its anthem, “The Funeral”, one of the best rock songs I’ve ever heard. 2007’s Cease to Begin, though arguably a small step back in terms of progress, made a solid mark on U.S. charts and put the band on the map for the masses.

   Despite faring far better than Cease to Begin in terms of performance (I do not know to what this phenomenon is owed), their most recent, Infinite Arms, comes in at just C+ material. All things considered, it could stand alone with at least a B grade if the band were debuting. But just as we’d chide The Beatles if they’d given us only a “good” album, we can’t feel satisfied with Band of Horses giving us a “decent” album. It’s too bad, too, because, as frontman Ben Bridwell sees it, the album marks the first time for the band in finally feeling as one cohesive unit, with previous members coming and going as if the line-up were an always-vacant motel stop.

   “Factory” opens the doors with a lull of a string intro (overdone in its more-than-enough repetition throughout), Bridwell, though still pitch perfect, giving us little in the way of excitement, unlike the first tracks to their previous albums, “The First Song” and “Is There A Ghost”, respectively. Though the Western theme stays alive and well in composition, the tired pace does little to get your blood moving. I confess my discovery, however, after coming back to the album a few weeks after first listens, that I had missed the sound to some extent.

   Single “Compliments”, though not at all epic, at least utilizes the echo-y guitar and harmonies that draw fans to the band in the first place, though not enough unfortunately. “Laredo” offers the simple happy-go-lucky though mild-mannered sound that makes for good road trip noise, Bridwell opening, “Gonna take a trip to Laredo/ Gonna take a dip in the lake.” Again, no shock or surprise here.

   “Blue Beard” opens in a Fleet Foxes-esque “Aaahhh”, drifting into a night-timey cadence of a song, a melody that, though drawing off of few chord changes, is one of the more charming melodies to be found on Infinite Arms. The band display a more acoustic side in “On My Way Back Home”, a light and pleasant tune that gives Bridwell a nice platform on which to show off his trademark sky-soaring vocals, at least intermittently. 

   The album’s title track, coming in halfway through, seems too dull to deserve the extra attention as such. Follow-up “Dilly” at least picks the pace up a bit, though not nearly enough for a Band of Horses-size spectrum, offering merely repetitive rhythm guitar atop a steady beat.

   To save time, and due to a lack of zest for the remaining material, there’s the quiet “Evening Kitchen”, the twangy “Older”, the sleepy “For Annabelle” (though it does possess a short and catchy guitar lick, as far as sleepy songs go), the rocker “NW Apt.”, and the unsurprising six-minute long farewell tune, “Neighbor”, aiming for “epic anthem”, and coming up short in terms of the aim. Though no songs insult on the newest from these guys, whom I still reserve considerable respect for, I must conclude that they could have done better, but, whether by fault of their own or not, the time wasn’t right. I just hope that next time it is.

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ODD BLOOD by yeasayer

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 6.1           Rolling Stone: 4/5           Metacritic: 78           Spin: N/A

 

Released: February 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. The Children
  2. Ambling Alp
  3. Madder Red [LISTEN]

  4. I Remember
  5. O.N.E.
  6. Love Me Girl
  7. Rome
  8. Strange Reunions
  9. Mondegreen
  10. Grizelda

   Yeasayer describes their sound as Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel. Their second full-length album, Odd Blood, carries with it a “pop” additive that blends, believe it or not, quite snugly with the previous descriptor. The Brooklyn-based band had every intention of this, the proof of which, though found amidst their own quotes surrounding the album’s buzz, can be plainly experienced over one sit-down listen of the ambiguously modern release.

   For me, the proof came in the form of multiple rough-shot listens that transpired over many a drunken hangout under my friends’ city dwelling (not at all a bad way to discover Yeasayer). Their genre-bending combination of emotion and sound at first baffled me, but the initial indifference I felt over their melodies, which at first seemed second-rate, was with time transformed into something of an obsession for the sound, which, though perhaps through bias, signified for me a feeling of upbeat togetherness that ranged from relaxed to downright dance-y. It was no surprise for me to learn that the album was inspired by an LSD-infused trip to New Zealand.

   Odd Blood starts with “The Children”, an oddball track of haphazard electronica and muffled vocoder. As far as first impressions go, they could have fared much better opening with something more along the lines of second track, “Ambling Alp”, which captures the fun and energy of the album far more successfully. Lead singer Chris Keating has a sound all his own, deep but often operatic, with melodies that seem to hark back to the cheesy heyday of the 80s, only it’s not the 80s anymore, and no longer cheesy. “Stick up for yourself, son, nevermind what anybody else done,” he beckons, as funky synthesizers and high-pitched secondary harmonies back him up.

   “Madder Red”, a personal favorite, lends itself as evidence that, though all for fun, the band isn’t just about happy pop, with minor and major swings bouncing back and forth. Impressive “oohing” in the form of background vocals support a more subdued Keating in this modern rock ballad. “I Remember” follows with something akin to the same sound that Passion Pit has begun to latch onto with audiences, featuring spacey synths and an equally spacey Keating who reminisces, “You’re stuck in my mind, alllll the time,” a nod to his chance meeting on a plane with his now wife. It makes for a nice break on the dance floor, good to close your eyes and swing your head back and forth to.

   “O.N.E.” kicks things back into pop powerhouse as perhaps the biggest standout on Odd Blood, and ironically sung by second-in-command, Anand Wilder. Initially cowbell-dominated, the percussion transforms into pure dance rhythm, a groundwork for the layers of synth-pop and echo-y guitar. It plays like a breakup anthem, with lines like, “No, you don’t move me anymore/ And I’m glad that you don’t/ ‘Cause I can’t have you anymore,” though the sentiments are actually a jab at addiction, specifically alcoholism. The video’s at least as funky and bizarre as the tune, and certainly as fun (see below).

   The second half of Odd Blood proves a little less mesmerizing. “Love Me Girl” is half serious, half quirky, Keating’s voice reaching erratically in all directions, not unlike that of Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes. “Rome” is somewhat annoyingly bass-y throughout, the Middle Eastern genre emerging in the form of complicated “Indian-sounding” synth solos. “Strange Reunions” is a soulful, trance-y, not too memorable two-and-a-half minutes. With “Mondegreen”, Keating attempted to recreate the “late 1970s drug-fueled paranoia of David Bowie”, but all I got out of it was the paranoia bit, without much catch. “Grizelda”, though still no gem, is, as bassist Ira Wolf Tuton puts it, “a nice way to close an album. It lulls you into sitting back in your chair, puts you in a trance a bit, although the subject matter might be a bit dark.”

   Weather hit or miss (mostly hit seems to be the consensus), Odd Blood showcases a band that’s willing to try just about anything to make their mark, and they seem perfectly at ease in the process, giving in little to the pop expectations of the present.  Using pitch shifters, effects pedals, unconventional beats, samples and time signatures, and never committing to a defining sound or genre, there’s something to be lauded for their experimental musical journey.

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IT’S BLITZ! by yeah yeah yeahs

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 8.1           Rolling Stone: 4/5           Metacritic: 82           Spin: 4.5/5

 

Released: March 2009
Tracklisting:
  1. Zero [LISTEN]

  2. Heads Will Roll
  3. Soft Shock
  4. Skeletons
  5. Dull Life
  6. Shame And Fortune
  7. Runaway
  8. Dragon Queen
  9. Hysteric
  10. Little Shadow

   In truth, I haven’t been much good in keeping up with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs since they started showing up in my Spin magazines I was issued back in high school. I make the confession because there’s a vibe to the band, a seemingly underground NY-hipster persona, suggesting that any self-respecting indie music listener would follow and likely even adore this female-led trio (keyboardist Nick Zinner and drummer  Brian Chase may share equal input with singer Karen O, but it’s her vocals that leave the dominating impression).

   I decided to be a late bloomer with It’s Blitz!, a decision I’m glad I made, as this third album probably worked to draw me in more than their first two albums could have. While Fever to Tell boasts the epic ballad “Maps” (recently voted #386 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time), I found the rest of the songs too grungy and chaotic to find much in the way of melodic joy. And while I don’t know much about Show Your Bones (on my soon-to-do list), It’s Blitz! is so progressively better than Fever to Tell in my mind that anything in-between the two just couldn’t be as good.

   The album’s best two tracks kick things off into high-gear, which, while perhaps not the most effective ordering, remains badass. “Zero”, named the best track of the year by both NME and Spin, is a confident and catchy song that builds off of persistent guitar and synth riffs throughout. Though I don’t find Karen O particularly attractive, I can’t help but be aroused when she lets her voice soar to reach impossible highs, or similarly when she brings it down for her karate-kick “Ha!”s atop the synth solos. In a similar vein, “Heads Will Roll”, though darker, sticks a dance-y beat to half-creepy, half-poppy strings, a 50/50 combination also evident in the vocals, Karen O commanding, “Off with your head! Dance ‘til you’re dead!” The amazing video can be viewed below.

   “Soft Shock” slows things down, but is by no means a dragger of a song. It’s bass-y, a bit spacey, and a little more thoughtful in nature. “Skeletons” follows, and at five minutes, is the album’s epic daydream anthem. Karen O sings about love and skeletons and other precious reflections, the background noise taking two minutes to progress into something more powerful and substantial, aided by the perfect marching band percussion by Chase.  This continues for some time, and is worth dragging out.

   “Dull Life” and “Shame and Fortune” seem somewhat fillers, not bad upbeat tracks, but nothing too special. “Runaway”, however, the other 5+ minute track, comes close to rivaling “Skeletons” in epicness, growing from simple and airy piano ballad (though not without tension) into a deep-stringed, percussion-heavy wall of sound, Karen O “oohing” up and down. In sharp contrast, “Dragon Queen” follows as the most oddball, funkiest, and dare I say disco-sounding tune. At first I avoided it, but the annoying guitar riffs get less annoying with time.

   “Hysteric” is another gem, O sounding the most un-badass I’ve ever heard her as her voice sweeps through a soft and then less soft pop tune. Appropriate ender “Little Shadow” gives us the emotionally-subdued singer contemplations combined with organ and deep, battlefield drums that have come to typify many an album’s closing vibes, and so far the method still works. All in all, It’s Blitz! was just what I needed to turn me onto the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and really, finally, feel welcome in their indie scene.

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WORK by shout out louds

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 5.4           Rolling Stone: N/A           Metacritic: 70           Spin: 3/5

 

Released: February 2010
Tracklisting:
  1. 1999
  2. Fall Hard
  3. Play the Game
  4. Walls
  5. Candle Burned Out
  6. Throwing Stones [LISTEN]

  7. Four by Four
  8. Moon
  9. Show Me Something New
  10. Too Late, Too Slow

   Along with The Perishers and Peter Bjorn and John, Shout Out Louds completes a trilogy of good indie rock bands to hail from Sweden (for the size of the country, that’s not bad…and I’m sure I’m missing others). I was first turned onto their sound through a track that was shared with me from their first album, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff: “My Friend and the Ink on His Fingers”. The song really grabbed me, had that great mixture of charm that speaks to both old- and new-sounding eras of music, driven by jangly guitar, a mean harmonica, persistent tambourine, and a refreshingly new vocal style. I still love it. And it’s a damn shame it’s better than every song off their most recent endeavor, Work.

   The problem with Work lies not in the sounds, styles and melodies it offers (all of which come across with little to complain about at face value), but in its timing, the material, though perhaps with a sound that would have been a progressive step for indie music a decade ago, today translating to little more than good intentions gone creatively lazy. There’s little in their most recent endeavor in terms of next-stepness, either for relevant music today or the band’s career alone. The album, though pleasant and charming “enough”, serves up much of the same and expected for the sound it aspires to: simple melodies and chord progressions carried by driving electric guitar and bass, complimented by the occasional playful piano riffs. It’s not a convention I enjoy knocking, but for material this recycled and unimaginative, impossible to wholly embrace.

   The album starts finely enough with “1999”, opening with repetitive but largely enjoyable bass and Spoon-style piano, frontman Adam Olenius entering into a subdued verse that might hit harder should his vocals carry the punch of Spoon’s Britt Daniel. Louder guitar, tambourine, claps and energetic background vocals bring the first impression to a favorably-paced tone-setter, but one that at first is hopefully far shy of the album’s creative peak.

   Single “Fall Hard” taps into slightly more sophisticated material, some of the guitar even resembling Grizzly Bear-like chords, and background that borders on Midlake-esque. Olenius exhibits his same recognizable style of singing, and no complaints there, but his melodies in this one aren’t much more interesting than the sounds surrounding his voice. Other single “Walls” is a slightly more musically enjoyable affair, though nearly its first minute suffers from being too stripped down, a move no doubt intended to “up” its intellectual appeal. After recovering, however, with some driving guitar and playful piano bits, there are chunks that really get your head happy.

   “Throwing Stones” has become my favorite off “Work”. Not surprisingly, I realized that the reason lay in its closer similarities with Howl Howl Gaff Gaff’s “My Friend and the Ink on His Fingers”, only with less enthusiasm and barnyard grit. The melancholy chords lend nicely to the vocal melody chosen by Olenius, cascading between lows and highs between guitar riffs possessing the ever-so-slight sound of American twang.

   Nearly every other song, unfortunately, lacks either the artistic presence, or, when that’s not enough, just plain old upbeat excitement to constitute a favorable opinion of the entire album’s chemistry with itself or the bands which Shout Out Louds compare to, aside from track #9 which, although upbeat, is too generic to find much value in. Its title, “Show Me Something New”, I’m guessing to be the sentiment of most fans before sinking their teeth into this most recent release, and the title of the following and closing track, “Too Late, Too Slow”, the resulting conclusion.

   Higher hopes were only amplified by the fact that the album was produced by Phil Ek (who’s produced Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, and The Shins, all reaping more praiseworthy results). Their record label has stated that the album was trying to “strip away the bells and whistles of previous efforts”…sounds good on paper, but the finished product left me wanting the bells and whistles back. It’s a fine album for setting the pre-party vibe or counteracting indoor rainy-day moods with your groovy friends, but if Shout Out Louds hope to hold onto some legitimate lasting power, their next effort will require more “work”.

   Props to the creative album promo below though, directed by Shout Out Louds bassist Ted Malmros, who also drew acclaim for directing Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks” (video here).

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SIGH NO MORE by mumford & sons

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 2.1           Rolling Stone: N/A           Metacritic: 65           Spin: N/A

 

Released: October 2009
Tracklisting:
  1. Sigh No More
  2. The Cave
  3. Winter Winds
  4. Roll Away Your Stone
  5. White Blank Page
  6. I Gave You All
  7. Little Lion Man [LISTEN]

  8. Timshel
  9. Thistle & Weeds
  10. Awake My Soul
  11. Dustbowl Dance
  12. After the Storm

   I like folk, I like rock, and I like England. So when I was turned onto Mumford & Sons recently, I liked them. Although, the sound these four London lads produce sounds less like England and more like America, specifically the folk America of olden days that I can only guess of. Toting vests and button-down shirts, they seem to pay homage to more than just the music, in the process drawing similarities to CSN&Y, and perhaps Fleet Foxes too for doing the same. Their harmony-enriched melodies further the comparison, lead singer Marcus Mumford’s voice, given the right emphasis, sometimes almost a brother to Foxes’ frontman Robin Pecknold.

   The “rock” categorization benefits the true definition of the genre, referring not to electric guitars and cymbal crashes, but to the true energy that exudes from an artist when passionately diving into their own music. The excitement of that energy doesn’t translate the same for every kind of music, but in this listener’s ears, it serves some of its best results in the folk arena. Most songs from their debut effort, meager as some begin, reach a place at some point where that passion takes over, causing a sort of anthemic overdrive from all four on their instruments in a display not far from that seen in one of the best folk-rock examples, The Avett Brothers.

   Sigh No More opens with its title track, a light guitar plucking entering in followed by full-bodied harmonizing led by Mumford singing, “Serve God, love me and men/ This is not the end/ Live unbruised we are friends/ And I’m sorry/ I’m sorry,” the last lines crescendoing into a heartfelt bellow that one hopes forshadows the aforementioned display of excitement. It does, as the second half of the song takes a lyrically powerful stanza and repeats it three times, each time the emotion and music, aided by organ, bass, banjo and percussion, pounding more forcefully: “Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you/ It will set you free/ Be more like the man you were meant to be/ There is a design, an alignment to cry/ At my heart you see/ The beauty of love as it was made to be.”

   Continuing in the theme of hope and meaning behind human improvement, upcoming third single “The Cave” (video below) sees Mumford mellowly attacking a catchy hook about empty hearts and barren harvests before the rest join in for the uplifiting chorus, guitar and piano taking a backseat to the often primary vocals. A short instrumental bridge showcasing some impressive banjo verifies the aggressive and heavy pace that’s yet to come. When it does come a bit later, the intensity is passionate and forceful enough to make you believe the floorboards are reverberating right there beneath your feet, the band singing, “But I will hold on hope/ And I won’t let you choke/ On the noose around your neck/ And I’ll find strength in pain/ And I will change my ways/ I’ll know my name as it’s called again.”

   Another powerhouse of Sigh No More, voted #1 on a 100 Hottest of 2009 list by listeners of a prominent Australian station, is “Little Lion Man”. Listen for yourself (above), and I’ll let Marcus Mumford describe the song in his own words: “I guess the sound of it grabs you a little bit by the balls – it’s quite an aggressive song, a bit more of a punch in the face. Or at least, for our stuff anyway – a lot of our stuff isn’t as hard-hitting as that. It felt like the right song to be the single because it represented the harder, darker side of what we do, and at the same time, the more folksy and punchy side.”

   There’s a larger handful to admire on this album than just the ones mentioned, notably second single “Winter Winds”. Truly, no songs seem out of place, or somehow unworthy among others. What works for this promising (relatively) new band is the sincerity and honesty behind the words they sing, a characteristic that shines through in the music too. Mumford explains the effect of lyrics on their songs: “For me, personally, it’s the lyrics that I listen to again and again in a song. I place specific importance on them. I can’t write lyrics unless I really feel them and mean them.” Whatever life experiences have brought Mumford & Sons the lyrics behind Sigh No More and the inspired music that followed, it’s certainly served them well so far.

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