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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Scribble Mural Comic Journal
Notenuf

Rating: 8/10 ?


May 10, 2007
This is merfolk music. That oft-noted indie rock obsession with animals and nature has, as of late, been pretty terrestrial. Understandable, considering the genre's typically earthy and angular themes. Melodies scuttle like mice, hooks literally jump out and bite the listener while rhythms enslave him; it all seems to have a sort of primal familiarity for us. By comparison, the aquatic laptop pop of A Sunny Day In Glasgow might initially seem monochromatic and defiantly "background," but there's so much to explore in the underwater odyssey that is their debut Scribble Mural Comic Journal, you'd be sorry not to jump in.

The album begins unassumingly enough with "Wake Up Pretty" and "No. 6 Von Karman Street," a two-part sigh of minimalist IDM ripples that scarcely prepares you for the rabbit-hole plunge of "A Mundane Phonecall to Jack Parsons," in which a mandolin line ricochets through a stampede of rhythm. I agree, the sheer viscosity of sound is a bit disorienting at first. In particular, Robin and Lauren Daniels' blissfully out-of-focus vocals are a throwback to My Bloody Valentine, far more melodically complex yet equally auxiliary, with an emphasis on syllable rather than lyric (clearly, the group relieved the itch with their tongue-in-cheek song titles). But it's not shoegaze in the distorted-guitar-wash sense, at least not always, but rather in Ben's egalitarian use of the masterfade. Sounds are plentiful, organic as often as not, and the limelight is shot through a prism.

The trajectory of Scribble Mural Comic Journal makes me think of Alice in Wonderland - the songs float by, less discrete displays of ideas as transient experiences, things to be glimpsed and passed through. The immediacy of this ear-candy collage grows until the album's spectacular anthemic centerpiece, "5:15 Train." Its elements remain murky by most standards, but it sports the album's most fist-pumping rhythm and a triumphant Shibuya-Kei inspired vocal line. The song is excellent yet deceptively climactic; in a clever narrative twist, all unity suddenly fragments with the anxious "Lists, Plans," an unsettling cycle of gurgling tones, singsong chants, and a weaving "Leaf House" vocal line. The song is elegantly claustrophobic. When it ends, it seems so has the disorder, until the twilight throb of "C'mon" is joined by a bouncing detuned jack-in-the-box line. It's a scary moment, to realize that in this fantastical ocean, nothing is necessarily as it seems.

Structurally, this "second act" isn't particularly different from the first, except that the harmonic screw really begins to loosen. Consequently, untethered melodies that have lost their soul or mind creep in and cast the shadow of doubt over surrounding warmth. And even as they trickle away, leaving expanses of repetition and drone in the final few tracks, it's hard to quite feel comfortable until the closer, "The Best Summer Ever" which may come the closest to the carefree twee-pop evoked by the band's name. The idiosyncrasies remain - in such a focused context, touches like over-delayed echoes are even distracting - but after such dark and mysterious depths, it feels like surfacing. The arc is satisfying, but the real triumph of Scribble Mural Comic Journal is not its own sense of adventurousness but the one it conjures in the willing listener. And in many ways it's a breath of fresh water.

Reviewed by Collin Anderson
Originally from Trumansburg, NY, Collin contributes to LAS from the comfort of his sheltered ivory dorm in Oberlin, Ohio.

See other reviews by Collin Anderson

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