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


 » 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]


 » 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
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 Most Serene Republic
Underwater Cinematographer
Arts & Crafts

Rating: 7/10 ?

March 10, 2006
The Arts & Crafts label is synonymous with Broken Social Scene. Maybe it's because the band's roster is larger than that of most small labels, or maybe it's because nothing else is coming from Canada right now (kidding, Montreal!), but any album with the A&C stamp is going to carry with it associations with BSS, the Stars, Feist, et al.

On their debut, The Most Serene Republic embrace this stigma rather than resist it. Underwater Cinematographer is exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from a band that hangs out with/looks up to Amy Millan, Kevin Drew, Dave Newfeld and the rest. Songs creep in with pretty piano lines only to spill over themselves in layers of instruments. The most noticeable difference between Serene and Scene is that of direction: while BSS build their songs higher and higher into an ecstatic swell, TMSR tend to move horizontally, changing (but not stacking) tempos, melodies and voices, always using bridges, bridges, bridges to take them there.

This unique momentum begins on "Content Was Always My Favorite Colour." After 30 seconds of a low-humming intro, the song unfolds into an indie pop melody led by singer Adrian Jewett, who sounds like Ben Gibbard, Jr. This section lasts for about a minute, and just when you are about to compare this song to something from Plans, it pivots into an acapella section, then into la-la-la bridge, followed by a long outroduction featuring piano and fuzz. The majority of Underwater Cinematographer is no less schizophrenic - you know a song called "The Protagonist Suddenly Realizes What He Must Do In The Middle Of Downtown Traffic" is going to have transitions all up in it.

Sometimes this playfulness can backfire into attention deficit disorder. "Proposition 61" doesn't change form like other songs, but it does include the Arcade Fire-style shout-along finale "She took a sad song, made it sadder" over someone's echoed beatbox. The final product is still pretty good (even with the beatbox…), but it feels like a track comprised of musical loose change. "Where Cedar Nouns And Adverbs Walk" can also feel like a chex-mix of bite-sized songlets, a track whose sum is not greater than its parts. The best songs on this album are the ones that aren't so restless. "Relation Eyes" shines as a pop number should and comes as a welcomed rest from songs that run wild. "King of No One," takes a break from the madcappery with a gentle bossanova sway, proving the boys and girls of The Most Serene Republic don't need to emulate Broken Social Scene to make quality songs.

But it's not bad when they do, either. You can't blame them for aligning themselves with that soon-to-be cult -- it's a good sound. The next album from the Most Serene Republic will be the real deal breaker, though; they'll have to define their role within Arts & Crafts either by diverging from the Broken Social Scene sound, or by mimicking it even more.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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