Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Et Voila

Ask, and ye shall etc., etc. Downloads from their forthcoming album are now available on the Doveman web site. (Contrary to my previous, erroneous, assumption, other MP3s had been already been available there, but buried at the bottom of the main Doveman page.) I'm happy to report that the tunes, "Honey" and "Teacup," are almost better than they have a right to be. The vocals aren't doing anything for me (and I swear it's not just because I had my mind set on hating them!), but the melodies are lovely and the instrumentation is sexy, woozy, lush, yet restrained. I'm (reservedly) impressed.

And, for those of you keeping score at home, Picaresque is everything I hoped it would be. I can't say enough about Meloy's talents as a songwriter, and this album captures the band in stunning form. Rachel Blumberg is a force to be reckoned with on drums; I'm sad this is her final album with the group. At the risk of just gushing and going into ecstasies before I'm really ready to give up my initial, visceral, emotional attachment to this batch of songs and get all cerebral about it, I feel like I can safely say that this album is remarkable for the way it's united by narrative moments where the powerless become powerful, the powerful become powerless, or the nexus of the two. Fans of Shockheaded Peter and the Lemony Snicket books will find much to love in the nine-minute epic "The Mariner's Revenge Song"; fans of Hedwig and the Angry Inch should find that familiar lump-in-the-throat feeling anew in "On the Bus Mall"; fans of Belle and Sebastian's classic "Stars of Track and Field" will find an heir to it in "The Sporting Life." As for me, my current favorite song is "The Engine Driver," which we had the great good fortune to hear Colin play solo back in January. That's all I'm giving you for now, kittens. Like I said, I still need to protect my feelings about it for a little while.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too will reserve full judgment until I've grown into the album a little more, but Picaresque is actually disappointing me a little. I worry that occasionally Colin Meloy's troubador instincts get the better of him and he sacrifices the music for the storytelling (e.g., Bagman's Gambit and Lost at Sea), producing clever lyrics and evocative fairy tales set to rather ho-hum music. I get much more excited when Meloy's brilliant narrative compliments, rather than dominates, the music, as in a song like Leslie Ann Levine.

By no means do I write the album off, though; it's just that I find a few conspicuous weak points. But the strengths also appear in number: The Sporting Life and Sixteen Military Wives are great pop tunes, and I'm noticing more brass and more pervasive backing vocals than in previous albums (a plus). My favorites are the Engine Driver and On the Bus Mall--not coincidentally, the two songs whose somber mood fits most into the Castaways and Cutouts mold. I guess that's what I really miss here: the album doesn't hold together quite as cohesively as Castaways; there are happy pop songs, guitar-accompanied extended story songs, and mellow songs, but they feel a little thrown together so they don't quite equal more in sum than in parts.

Just my initial reaction. But again, such is my fondness for this band that these cavils only bring the album down to about an eight out of ten at worst.