July 10, 2006

Shapes and Sizes: Shapes and Sizes: Review

Shapes and Sizes
[Asthmatic Kitty - July 11 2006]
*Sixeyes Score: 8 out of 10

Review by Andy Stokes

To be clear, this debut by these north-of-the-49th parallel indie popsters, begins with the very first second of the loping intro of opener "Island's Gone Bad". But you know nothing of this band, and the song actually shakes the dust out of its eyes and really begins at exactly 2:32. That's when primary vocalist, Caila Thompson-Hannant, unleashes her voice over a little go-go beat like an expensive chandelier crashing onto the dinner table. She's not exactly into regarding what was previously thought pleasurable to the ear, but you want to keep listening anyway. You want to see where this is going. Answer: everywhere their country mates, The New Pornographers, considered themselves of too pure pedigree, or simply didn’t care, to tread. Second track, "Weekends at a Time", (we're going sequentially – the album works that way) for example, melts from a frustrated pounder to a torch song, almost. That was only an interlude to the synth-laden, prog-ish ending.

Trying to keep this band under your thumb is great fun, but it's impossible. Not all will find the art in the noise-'ins' and 'outs', but you'll always know they’re in control. The pulsing, morose, march of "I am Cold" is a change of pace early on, but a nice one. You have a little time to catch your breath.

By "Northern Lights", a sweet, pseudo-Vaudevillian number, you've accepted the band's intricate, irreverent slant on pop (they really do change channels like a schizo) and they've let you accept it. That the treasures beyond, in the remaining six tracks, can still astound you after all that is saying a great deal. "Goldenhead", the lone "straight" track on the record, sounds like a younger sibling of Sonic Youth (Sonic Tykes?). Rory Seydel's guitar work is vital and imaginative throughout the record, but on "Oh No, Oh Boy", it's laid clear just how much a Thurston Moore, Jr. he can be.

But all this was just rubbing you down for closer, "Boy, You Shouldn't Have", a gentle tuck-in that rewards your daring for listening to the record from start-to-finish. That means don’t hit that track advance button one time. Don't... you... dare.

+ wilderness
islands gone bad

Buy it from insound.

Andy Stokes scratches a living in Augusta, GA by listening, then writing, and then talking about the sounds others make. He believes that teachers, firemen and music critics are the saints of the planet, making measly stipends for their selfless services.

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