Diversions


Music Review: Electric Owls by uncdiversions
May 16, 2009, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Electric Owls

Ain’t Too Bright

(Vagrant)

Why in the world you name your record Ain’t Too Bright? You have to know that any yahoo not intelligent enough to come up with his own original take on the album is going to take the title and run with it for a joking lede.

Guess that means this reviewer ain’t too bright either, as the analysis here will revolve around the title. But It’s just too perfect a premise to wrap this record’s problems and limited successes around.

By turns Electric Owls, the solo vehicle of Andrew Herod from
Brooklyn-via-Chapel-Hill band the Comas, display both the enlightening joy of the singer’s songwriting wit and melodic touch and the dim-witted frustration of his inability to know his limitations. In the end this makes for a debut that’s not exactly dumb or horrible but that frustrates the listener by just not delivering enough substance to be satisfying.

For the most part moderate lows and marginally impressive highs are separated into three sections by the stylistic choices Herod makes in each part.

On the first half of the record, he renders a smooth, intelegent and efervescent version of the accessible electo-pop of groups such as Say Hi! and the Postal Service that represents the best music the CD has to offer.

On opener “Magic Show,” an easy acoustic guitar and a booming, curtain-opening synth line are the propulsion for Herod’s illusion metaphor as he sings lines such as “I’m a clarevoyant baby, listen if you will/And I’ll tell you the future of this $20 bill/Watch as it turns into a cup of your finest swill.” It’s a cute bit of self-depricating humor and its one of the only two genuine gems the record has to offer.

It’s the middle section of the record that most lives up to the mental inadequacy its title suggests.

“Put the Candle Back!,” the worst of the two offenders, relinquishes a propulsive intro of guitar and synth to fall prey to a shoddy Killers impression filled with cliches such as “You’re turning me on, you’re turning me down” sung with a voice that’s filled with painfully faked gravel.

And though Herod recovers with a final act that includes three pleasing folk songs including the rollicking ghost story “Haint in the Holler,” there are too few actual gems to offset the weaker material and the disjointed feel that all his mismatching styles create.

Because of this, Herod’s self-titled debut becomes much like a half-way decent college radio station. Every once in a while they play a good tune that keeps you listening, but for the most part it’s a mix of mediocre indie songs put together by an inexperienced DJ who doesn’t understand that you can’t play some styles right next to each other.

Thus, the record lives up to its name. Because while it might not always be a bright, enjoyable listen, it does have enough goodies to keep you interested for the entire half-hour ride, a fact that may frustrate you when you get to the end and realize you didn’t really get anything out of it.

– By Diversions Editor Jordan Lawrence

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