A horrible hack

The Appleseed Cast

Two Conversations

Year Released: 2003
Format: CD
Label: Tiger Style Records
Reviewed by Martin Brown on Jun 13, 2007
I love this band to death, and have done for many a year. Too often people seem to bracket this band with other artists in their former Deep Elm roster, without actually bothering to listen to their progression from Christie Front Drive-styled rock through to the experimental, ambient genius they have peddled recently. Following their masterpiece, the ‘Low Level Owl’ double album in 2001, not a lot happened besides a compilation of ‘Lost Songs’ last year. Having left Deep Elm however and signed to Tiger Style, a new record has emerged, and it is of course stunning.

An intro similar to ‘The Waking of Perlotte’ from ‘Low Level Owl 1’ lulls the listener into a false sense of security, awaiting the amplified twinkly guitar prettiness of what track one surely must be. It’s therefore a bit of a shock when a bone shattering crack of Cobra’s drumkit ushers in a beautiful, yet incredibly urgent track – ‘Hello Dearest Love’.

This is indicative of the new material on this record. It’s unexpected. They’ve stripped down in every sense, besides instrumental sound and quality: the songs are less ‘arty’ or experimental in their structure and approach than their past few records, instead being comparatively simple and their aesthetic lying within this.

Their lyrics are far less flowery than all their previous albums, a deliberate step by Crisci, and a symptom of the album’s title. For instance, compare a line like ‘Jacob stands on snakes and finds his life in shame’ from ‘Low Level Owl 1’, or ‘The reaching ocean walked for days, you are mine’ from ‘Mare Vitalis’ with lines from this new record. ‘This is the end of you and me’, and ‘I want you to know that I’ll always love you and always be your friend’ for instance. Sure, they may look pretty cack when written down in comparison to their earlier lyrics, but as I mentioned, the aesthetic of this new sound works perfectly, when arguably it really shouldn’t.

Highlights of this album are numerous. ‘Losing, Touching, Searching’ harkens back to the oceanic noises of ‘Mare Vitalis’. ‘Sinking’ is a hypnotic, downtempo masterpiece. ‘Innocent Vigilant Ordinary’ is a brilliant pop song. However, the crowning glory of this record is without a doubt ‘Fight Song’, possibly the finest song The Appleseed Cast have ever produced. An mp3 of this song is available at the Tiger Style website.

Perhaps the need for this band to experiment is over, as this stylistic amalgam of their previous efforts shows. However, whatever this band come up with next, I’ll be on tenterhooks to find out what it is. Record of the year so far, without a shadow of a doubt.

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