Monday, 5 March 2012

My Best Fiend - In Ghostlike Fading

Ever since its founding in 1989, Warp Records has built itself to become, undoubtedly, the leading and pioneering label for electronic music. Up until a few years ago, it was all the label was renowned for. Now, however, amidst the catalogue of IDM, Acid House & Disco discographies alike, Warp has become a nestling for the more rock-orientated acts of the 21st century. Bands such as Battles, Maximo Park & Grizzly Bear, have all established themselves amidst the foray of 'indie'-tagged bands. And in 2012, Warp has once more added to that ever-growing collection of non-electronic acts with My Best Fiend, a New York-based five-piece whom make their debut this year with LP, 'in Ghostlike Fading'.

The album is a wash of blushed guitars and rippling drum hits. Opener 'Higher Palms' demonstrates this quite clearly with simple plunders of keyboards before diving quite frantically into waves of riveting guitars and expansive vocal work by lead singer Kris Lindblade. Before long, the song finds itself drowning in an all-consuming glaze of instrumentation, hints at a shoegaze direction apparent. Follower 'Jesus Christ' is more delicate in its approach, but still carries the former's structured leading of far-reaching chords and shimmering drums. The vocals, meanwhile, though following the same suit as the instrumentation don't provide any extra lyrical content to the songs. And as a result, seem as if to seep into the music, no longer a forerunning priority in the mix.

'ODVIP' goes about then to correct that, even if the heightening of Lindblade's vocals has, unfortunately, sacrificed any chance of the instrumentation leaving this somewhat narrow path in variety. The sounds themselves do, at some points, work well amidst the ambience and the hollowness present in this shell of a track. The climatic calling of 'Today, you can borrow/But tomorrow, you gotta pay', though simplistic in its content, breathes some much-needed life into the track - the following deliverance of guitars and drums too a welcome ascension.

The album's self-titled track, following closely in this rise of emotive convection, is totally devoid of the flickering 'da-da-DA-der' drums - that have so far, only hindered the album rather than added to it - and instead floats across in gentle strums of strings and droning synths. The vocals here feel more interconnected and 'a part' of the composition and despite its heavenly heightening, Lindblade's murmuring tone gives it that extra depth and dimension. And if 'In Ghostlike Fading' is a widened drifting, then 'Cracking Eggs' is no doubt its channelled thrust of vocals and guitar work. And behind the clashing and crashing of guitars, the melodic splash of piano keys adds to the music's intensity.

So the band have extended upon their comfort zone of 4/4 hits and the simmering seclusion of delicate strumming, and even if 'Cool Doves' later on continues this similar approach, the appearance of organ pipes here and there - alongside the multitude of strums, picks and arpeggios alike - shows some promising signs for improvement. Let's not forget that this is a band not only making their debut, but from the looks of thing, still trying to find a means to expand what is, clearly, their comfort zone. 'On The Shores Of The Infinite' may quite possibly demonstrate the band's strongest point here, as a result. Quite fitting that it's the finale in which we find a steady shift between lonely plucked strings and Lindblade's meditative-like channel of voice and tone. The instrumentation remains though, somewhat automated and lacking in emotion. Far from synthetic, but not entirely organic enough to feel relative to that specific song.

No doubt these guys will learn as they progress through the years; there is, as stated, evidently clear signs of creativity beyond the track's physical characteristics. The emotion is there; so too is its deliverance. But in terms of this being remarkable and expansive in regards to the band's choice in instrumentation and the application of these sounds, it is still somewhat lacking. And in most occasions, a little repetitive.


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