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 » 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.
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 » 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!
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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
Becoming All Things
Belle City Pop

Rating: 6.6/10 ?

February 11, 2008
By the time I set about reviewing Zookeeper's eponymous EP a few months back, I already knew I'd be snatching up their LP, Becoming All Things, upon its release. Despite a few misguided tracks that really didn't have much to them, the catchy melodies of their abbreviated debut often masked the complexity of the tunes' composition. Across the short-player's five tracks, lead singer Chris Simpson's melodic toil - assuming the listener tuned out for the six minutes of the lackluster "Flood of Love" - paid off in spades.

With the considerably longer, and at times more self-indulgent Becoming All Things, Simpson demands more of the listener than a simple affinity for the melodic. His pop sensibilities remain intact, but Becoming All Things is a truly diverse album compared to its predecessor, something especially notable in the album's quieter moments.

The album's opening track, "Snow in Berlin," picks up right where the EP left off, rollicking along with a saccharine verse, propelled into a solid and undeniably sing-along chorus. Later, the restrained "Boy & The Street Choir" feels like a soft spring morning. Rather than feeling trite (see Daniel Svanberg's review of the Willits + Sakamoto collaboration), the subtle sound of dripping water provides a unique moment on the record and adds an unexpected bit of texture to the otherwise delicate guitar and piano. The chirping birds lend the song an additional intimacy, while string flourishes rise at the right dynamic moments. It's the shortest seven-minute song I've ever heard, and I can only wish my shampoo made me feel so fresh.

Another epic ballad, "On High" follows two tracks later and loads some percussion into the "Boy & The Street Choir" formula. But here the results are mixed, with Simpson crooning over a more playful piano and slower metronome. The track's seven-minute runtime is a bit much for a twist on a song not long gone from memory, and only the dedicated will manage to stay attentive as it lurches - cymbals crashing left and right and a lone trumpet lingering in the background - past the three-minute mark.

From there, unrestrained by the concision of Zookeeper's EP format, Simpson's indulgences often get the best of him. More often than not tracks seem lost in their own moodiness and undecided in their resolution. For Simpson the notion of a "pop" song does not include a time limit, and Becoming All Things' elongated instrumental passages trip up and draw attention away from his generally well-crafted melodies. But just when the album seems hopelessly lost, on the last track Simpson finds his way again with "Born With Things To Do." Perhaps Simpson will cut down on the distractions next time and move away from the aimless piano ballad. Though Becoming All Things makes some strides forward, don't expect new fans to slog through the auditory confusion it takes to get there.

Reviewed by
Jeff McMahon
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Jeff McMahon



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