Monday, June 18, 2007

Sound of subtle atrophy

Collective Psychosis Begone

Hallelujah the Hills - Hallelujah the Hills

Raise the Flag On Your Sibling's Favorite Daydream
- Hallelujah the Hills

Why just burn the barn, when you can also torch the farmhouse, set the fields afire, watch the whole world go up in flames? Hallelujah the Hills implicitly asks this on its self-titled song, piling intensity on excess, instruments on lyrical erudition, unison heys on gleeful hallelujahs, like a teetering hill of broken furniture on a raging bonfire. It's a ludicrous song of ridiculous joy, of secular religiosity, a sing sing a song, sing it loud act of music-faith testifying. And actually ... it's kind of exhausting. Just try to listen sober to this admittedly greatish barroom anthem more than a few times in a row. (Don't worry, you can come back to it later and it retains its hyperactive power.)

About half of the songs on the band's new album operate in said accelerant-fuelled-burnburner
mode, and those that don't are burners too -- just slower -- reaching their inevitable conflagrations with a magnifying glass, noonday sun and some patience. And because they have such immediacy, such here-and-nowness, it's easy to miss (even with helpful signposts as "Wave Backwards to Massachusetts" and "It's All Been Downhill Since the Talkies Started to Sing") the album's thoughtful nostalgia, the care it takes in scrapbooking the past. "Raise the Flag" comes at you like memories do, in sepiaed bits and technicolor pieces:

Back in school again
You didn't think that I'd abandon you my friend
Here comes a silver bullet
To skim the leaves of poplar trees
And blessed be the minor keys
I'm so in love with you.

and in stark silences and fractious flares: a probing acoustic guitar, then a gradual glow of cello and cymbal,
children's chatter, distorted tape samples. Finally, rousing but melancholic refrains. The lyrics imply home secrets (illness? abuse?) and a schoolyard crush, but the song could be any episode in any childhood where one strong emotion is displaced on another, where a blur of feelings makes it hard to isolate the moment that everything changed, even less the reason.

From Collective Psychosis Begone (Misra, Amazon)
The band's


Blogger Waide said...

I discovered this band last week and have not been able to pull the CD out of the stereo. You are spot on here. The way the album glides seamlessly between intimate and boisterous is fantastic. I also dig the word play. "I am the filibuster, it's true/ I am going to keep on waiting for you" is such a cool line, no matter how many times you sing it. Nice site, you have good taste in music.

11:30 AM  

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