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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Or Give Me Death

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

February 15, 2007
As Sam Beam is to Iron & Wine or David Bazan is to Pedro the Lion, so Seattle native David Terry is to Aqueduct. Sure, there have been friends helping along the way, but every sonic ounce of piano-laden, horn-blasting quirk-pop flows through the hands of Terry and the result has been an ever-defining Aqueduct sound. Having teamed up with the venerable Barsuk label in 2005 for Or Give Me Death's predecessor, I Sold Gold, Terry's star brightened, and this year he returns to give us yet another installment in his catalog.

As it stands, Or Give Me Death is a contradiction of sorts. Amidst lyrics such as "I'd like to look you in the eye and take off your disguise" and "I sing the song that everyone sings of regret for not looking after things," Terry's peculiar folk/pop/emo stylings are marked by happy-go-lucky instrumentation. It's the musical equivalent of pretending not to feel the way you do. And, as in real life, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

It's in tunes like "You'll Get Yours," "Just The Way I Are" and "Unavailable" that Aqueduct achieves pure pop bliss. The latter track features a beautiful string arrangement atop Terry's piano melodies and the track simply soars. But unfortunately, more often than not, all of the musical idiosyncrasies simply get in the way. Terry has clearly reached a new level of musical maturity on this album, but flirting with sounds that don't quite fit in the face of such progression only keeps Or Give Me Death from fully harnessing his newfound growth.

Reviewed by Matt Conner
A contributing writer, Matt Conner lives in Anderson, Indiana.

See other reviews by Matt Conner



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