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Music Reviews

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Love & Other Planets

Rating: 8/10 ?

September 25, 2006
If you're looking for music to make heartfelt love or fall asleep to, this here's your record. Adem's sophomore effort Love and Other Planets, encompassing 12 tracks over 45 minutes, is soft, sweet, warm, and well, wet. It's also a smooth afterglow of a follow-up to Adem's 2004 release, Homesongs, so if that was your cup of tea, this one's your sweetener.

Just get ready to be drenched in syrups. Adem fawns over delicate instrumentation, but thankfully the artist reveals another passion with this album: rhythm. The greatest surprises are the breaks between sugary satisfaction-the spicy supplement of a beat.

"You and Moon," is one song that provides such. Backed by a female vocalist, clapping, lalalalas, folky beatboxing, something like a xylophone and Radiohead-esque electronic tones, the song is rad and sincerely rocks.

"Launch Yourself'" also has a upbeat rhythm, kept by handclapping and electronics. The song has a noteworthy hook and successful harmonizing (a trend of the album).

These two songs make for well-planned breaks in the romantic, yet fairly crest-less lull that is the rest of the album. Warm, sweet, soft, steady, reminiscent of Iron and Wine. It's nice, but give us something to move to, if you're going to get us in the mood and all.

The album introduces itself with "Warning Call," appropriate in its repetition of a guitar lick, a slow beat kept by the tambourine, and light vocals. Its chorus catapults the song into full bloom, presenting the sonic possibilities of the rest of the record.

Despite the brief encounters with faster and stronger beats, the delicate tendencies of the artist resonate strongest. The title of the album, Love and Other Planets, tells it all. This album is free-floating and somewhat otherworldly. There is little, if any, gravity, which is not to say that it lacks cohesiveness. All songs are interconnected. The album artwork illustrates the standing metaphor well: this is a planetary system grounded in love. The title track (number 5) is all clouds and orchestral ambiance, with an eerie metallic noise sounding in the background and an album mantra repeating: "If you look close enough, you can just make out Love and other planets. We are not alone."

"Last Transmission From The Lost Mission" is the only song that sonically communicates loneliness and disconnection, sounding something like 2001: A Space Odyssey villain computer HAL 9000 as he meets his demise: dying and distant, growing more so by the second.

"These Lights Are Meaningful" follows the song though, reconnecting us with an onslaught of sound and hope. Adem explains the album mantra: "we have a reason here, something beyond ourselves," bringing the listener back to the desire for meaning, connection and companionship. Even if he's wrong and everything is meaningless, Adem sings candidly, "make me feel like I'm not alone, it's what I need."

A song called "X Is For Kisses" finds elementary satisfaction in the sweet challenge of making each line start with A-Z and in that order, save for X; hence the title. Sorry to ruin it for you. It's one of those backwards sort of tricks that grant satisfaction to the listener, like discovering Starlight Mints' last album Drowaton is "not a word," literally. But hey, all's not lost. Listen and see for yourself. "X" is a subtle, poetic "Let's Get It On," the wettest smooch of them all.

This is a mood record, made expressly to get people closer. Call it indie-art-folktronic Barry Manilow. Keep it cued and ready because it's sure to lull your partner into romantic entanglement (or sleep as it were).

Reviewed by Sara Williams
Sara Williams writes and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her life revolves around music, which she plays, listens to, thinks in, writes of and is absorbed by. She has a degree in creative writing from UC Santa Cruz, a school in a lovely little town between the forest and the sea. She argues a mean leftist politics with a sweet but sharp tongue and is happy to be lost at sea searching for an Octopusís Garden in the shade.

See other reviews by Sara Williams



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