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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
Andrew Morgan
Misadventures in Radiology
Broken Horse Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

May 11, 2005
You've stepped out of your apartment to jaunt over to the corner store and pick up a few necessities. As you heft a brown paper bag across the street, a warm summer downpour arrives very suddenly, soaking every square inch of your person and leaving your clothes heavy. You slide into a seat upon returning to your home and you feel like you need to ring out your skin. The warm rain turns cold as it sets upon you and you're left with disbelief as the droplets suddenly disappear outside your window.

That weighted, drenched sentiment very ably describes the music of Andrew Morgan. His orchestral pop will bathe you through and through, and just as ephemerally as the summer rain, it's over, leaving only that affected, disillusioned feeling.

To many, Morgan will be known as a lasting connection to Elliott Smith. Smith took Morgan under his wing to create Misadventures in Radiology, and his touch is never lost in the work. More than any other influence, however, the Beatles are at front and center for Morgan, with the stringed richness of "Eleanor Rigby" playing continually in the album's subconscious. This could be a lost work between that fabled four and their recently, sadly departed protégée, if a record handcrafted entirely of orchestral melodies ever came to pass. Misadventures in Radiology is thick and richly layered, so much so that it can be overwhelming at times.

As such, Misadventures in Radiology is almost better taken in small doses than in one grand, luxurious sitting; the richness is almost too much to bear, and as all of the sopping, heart-wrenching strings and 60s nostalgia compiles upon itself, it becomes more burdensome and less distinguishable. The songs seem to melt together, and as overpowering as the experience is, it can be fairly tiring.

That's not to say, when approached appropriately, it's anything less than gorgeous. Morgan has done every one of his mentors proud with his creation. His use of strings can pluck very specific heartstrings, from the fragile to the optimistic to the fabulously silly. "Aligned on the Steps" has all the reverence and defiance of a Jason Falkner piece, while the title track reveals a bit of Of Montreal, though without some of the cartoonish mawkishness their work entails. There are plenty of emotional investment points, each able to be hand-picked depending on the listener's mood.

Perhaps the best results come from the dynamic couplet, "Joann, You'll Be Happy Soon" and "Shoulder Your Shovels," which are a little more understated than their grandiose predecessors, and brush away all of the extra layers to reveal an intimately hurt and decidedly real center to the album. They uncover Morgan's depth, serving as melodies from a grieving heart. Knowing the circumstances of the album, these tracks feel like an honest representation of Morgan's individuality.

Pair these with the strangely surreal closer, "Morpheus Calls," and you have a complete picture of Morgan's trials. He has led us through a ringer of awe, sorrow and doubt, and in the end, he gives us a portrait of detachment. The deadness feels like a huge accomplishment after having been through so much, and it's entirely appropriate. At this point, Misadventures in Radiology becomes not only a beautiful eulogy for a friend and counselor, but the arrival of a great and empathic voice in chamber pop.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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