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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Reindeer Section
Son of Evil Reindeer
PIAS America

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
The more the merrier, or so the saying goes, and who is Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody to quibble over semantics? Increasing the constituents of last years Scottish SupaGroup outing Y'All Get Scared Now, Ya Hear!, Lightbody took a hint from his neighboring consumer culture across the pond and went bigger, better and with more style when corralling this year's Section for the sessions that would produce Son of Evil Reindeer, bringing 2001's magic number of fifteen contributors up to this year's more respectably hefty twenty-seven.

What it seems those drab Scots have missed picking up on from America over the past few years, though, is the anti-depressant boom of the mid- to late-nineties. Happiness in a pill would seem to be just what the doctor ordered when you catch a kilt parting draft that raises the goose bumps on your nether regions during an overcast afternoon of bagpipe practice, but rather than self-medicating Lightbody has found another outlet for his moping, and I might add that it is a rather productive one. Reindeer Section recording sessions must be something akin to group therapy except that crying into Bob's bitch tits has been replaced by committing acoustic guitars, brass, strings, drums, piano, moog, and flutes to magnetic tape, and while the results are often pleasant, surprisingly the product as a whole looses a bit from its lack of variation.

Featuring members of Belle & Sebastian (Mick Cooke, Richard Colburn and Bob Kildea), Eva (Jenny Reeve, Sarah Roberts), Mogwai (John Cummings), The Vaselines (Eugene Kelly), Alfie, Idlewild, Teenage Fanclub, Cadet, and last but not least Arab Strap (Malcolm Middleton and Colin MacPherson) - whose Aidan Mofat turns in the most memorable vocal cameo in has unmistakable Scottish drawl on "Whodunnit?" - it's hard to imagine this project not becoming a train wreck of diverse instrumentation, but oddly enough the album ends up being dominated by songs predominantly featuring Lightbody's plaintive voice and lonesome guitar. Actually, the spot-on production relegates the rest of the players to chiming in at the opportune moments on various tracks, often giving the songs an almost orchestral depth without venturing into a tacky sheen. Still, the textures and tempos, while often lightened by the thicker timbres once more of the Section is utilized, end up being a bit downtrodden.

The saving grace of the dreary pop motif comes in the form of the songs' often uplifting lyrics. Letting go of the woe-is-me-now-that-my-love-is-gone theme for a few moments, "Cartwheels" mantra ("I'm doing cartwheels") should at least have you smiling, but if that doesn't get you in a good mood, the songs verse featuring the line "Now the pessimism in me yawns/ as I'm pissing on their perfect front lawns" should certainly break the laughter barrier. To top it all off the lead single comes in an easy to swallow liquid-gel capsule called "You Are My Joy", backed by the self-proclaimed "cutest video (ever!!)". It's in these moments, though they are often sporadic, when chinks of optimism are revealed in Lightbody's lovelorn armor, keeping the Section ship afloat.

The bevy of talent that turn in performances on this disc would make it hard for anyone to deny at least some passing interest in a few tracks found within; if nothing else it's an essential disc for the completist fans of any of the bands whose members contribute to the Section or for proponents of the Scottish auditory aura. Lightbody may fail to paint relationships in any sort of revelatory or subtly original way in his songs, but pop music doesn't always have to be innovative to be enjoyable. As it stands, the Section turn in moments of pure pop bliss when they allow the lighthearted congenial atmosphere of respect that brought them all together to seep into the music, and either way, it's still less painful and infinitely more agreeable than getting a lovesick shot in the ass.

Reviewed by Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other reviews by Mark Skipper



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