» 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!
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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
The Somnambulants
Paper Trail

Rating: 6/10 ?

October 8, 2007
There's something very charming and cute about duos, especially if they make electronic music, where one person is the star, and the other one is merely a set of brains in the background. Think Pet Shop Boys or OMD, two bands that have set the standards by which all electronic duos are judged.

The Somnambulants is another one of these electronic pairs, crafting clever pop songs with an indie-pop feel to them. In the case of these two San Franciscans, the purely electronic values have been toned down in their music, the focus having been shifted to traditional rock, pop, and blues compositions. While The Somnambulants are rightly considered under the broad banner of electronica, the two co-conspirators hardly embody the genre's traditional elements. Just take a listen to "Intro/Beat Down," the first cut of Paper Trail, and you'll hear what I mean; the track is Joy Division after a healthy injection of synth pop, and it's a pleasant song.

While often a positive indicator, The Somnambulants took a misstep with Paper Trail's strong opening track - referred to as "blowing one's wad" in street parlance - and in the wake of "Intro/Beat Down," the rest of the album is a bit of a let down. The Somnambulants try to find that dirty, punky, yet electronic feel, but never really get there. Most songs are well written, but that doesn't necessarily make them good; in some cases they're too cinematic, other times they're just plain boring. It feels like The Somnambulants have focused too much on what their band should be all about - what to avoid and what to highlight in shaping their sound - than on the actual songs. Don't get me wrong, I like a band that has a clearly defined plan and a path staked out for themselves, but the trees should always come before the forest. In the case of The Somnambulants, it feels like they try a bit too hard to define themselves as a post-electro-indie-blues band and at the expense of focusing on growing their songwriting roots.

Many bands fall prey to the same trap of posturing as The Somnambulants, becoming slaves under their own image, and in the end the music always suffers from its predestination. Paper Trail is not a complete loss, however, and it shouldn't be too hard for The Somnambulants to rid themselves of their aesthetic burden. Once the pair allow their music to evolve naturally it will develop organically into a more serious affair. As it is Paper Trail feels too staged, the songs suffering from insincerity. Letting go of their need to pin point themselves, the duo's music will take its own course and be much more exciting for the journey.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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