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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
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Rosyvelt
Applied Science
J-Shirt

Rating: 8/10 ?


November 28, 2006
A huge heart, likely gleaned from a science textbook of some sort, graces the back cover of Rosyvelt's debut album, Applied Science. Rosyevelt, a three-piece from Seattle, tackles the oft-pondered themes of the heart - the trials of love and the loss of it - across twelve tracks of low-fi and low-key wistful indie rock. There's a lot to like here, but there's also something about the album that sounds eerily familiar. Applied Science can move your heart, no doubt, but at times it feels just like slinking back to bed with a former lover, twice removed. But who among us hasn't done the same in our loneliest hour?

Love is without a doubt the magic word on Applied Science, which doesn't tiptoe around the issue throughout the ruminations of its opening vignettes. "Farmboy" documents a bucolic love triangle where the protagonist may or may not have serious Oedipal issues, as he wonders: "which one should I marry/ which has the hate of mother." The quiet "Rival Formula" is less melodramatic, getting right down to the plain fact that the jilted lover "can't even deceive her behind [his] back." Love's truly a wonderful thing, right?

Jeffrey Henry's guitar (he also handles the vocals, Hammond, Rhodes, accordion, trumpet, trombone, and melodica, oh my!) is downplayed throughout the album, allowing Louis O'Callaghan's bass to take center stage. The prominent bass sound reminds me in an abstract way of Unwed Sailor, though the mood here is different. Assorted additions from the piano, viola, cello, and various organs accentuate the bass-driven ditties of Applied Science. The production quality is not as clear as it could have been, as a lot of the sounds is a bit muddled. I wanted to hear all of those various instruments, but they seemed to get lost somewhere along the way.

Applied Science begins slowly, in a ponderous and melancholy mood, but the pace picks up several tracks into the album with the country fair hoe-down janglings of "Sue," which is slightly reminiscent of Solyoni's more upbeat work on Prairie Monster. The vocals on "Party" recall the more tender moments of My Morning Jacket's The Tennessee Fire, while "Red Blood Cells," a dandy country-burlesque ballad, reveals shades of Murder By Death. "Hook" and "It Doesn'tů" are both dark and mysterious adventures, well worth the journey, and the album ends with "Dancing By Numbers," a pretty little lullaby accented by warm viola and cello (truth be told, the album actually concludes with an awkward piece called "County Lines" that just doesn't fit the tone of the album. I'm pretending it doesn't exist). It's a nice way to clean up the loose ends, finally giving the listener the warm and fuzzy feelings of love that were torn up and spit out until this point.

Rosyvelt's debut is, in many ways, the illegitimate bastard love child of Unwed Sailor, early My Morning Jacket, and Murder By Death. This is very cool, in a way, but also slightly derivative (though there are certainly worse sources to derive your art from). Rosyvelt doesn't quite have its own distinct sound-yet-as they're borrowing from several sources while they work out what, exactly, they want to be. But the effort on Applied Science is admirable, and was just poignant enough to touch this reviewer's oft-broken and maligned heart.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan

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