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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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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
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

March 24, 2006
The cover of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's new album, Etiquette, shows the ghost of a young lady, practicing perfect posture, sharing breakfast with a smoking, slouching alligator. The image couldn't be more impeccable, as the album itself is an improbable mix of whimsical and refined, with a destiny in tragedy. Like Books hosting a tea party for Stephen Merritt, Etiquette is swirling with fantastical pairings of electronic and organic sound; it is immediately and truly special.

Like each of Owen Ashworth's wondrous works before it, Etiquette is intimate, often sorrowful, bedroom glitch-pop, but here it is more substantial. The unified sound varies in style, showing a breadth of expression and a growing array of whiz-bang instrumentation.

Dialing the party line of Bowie and Gainsbourg on "New Year's Kiss" will surely make the track a favorite for most, but some of the more impressive tracks sleep innocently until a narrative pang brings them to life. "I Love Creedence" is an unassuming favorite, whereas a brisk pace would normally contradict a track so heartbroken, it viscerally captures the speed of a stirred heart when seeing a past love on the street.

Sonically, Etiquette is interesting. "Scattered Pearls" is vintage Ashworth - a low-calorie concoction of Postal Service and New Order - but the earnest flutes that coat "Happy Mother's Day" in its flickering moment of disappointment and the sound of smashed Nico records on "Holly Hobby" are surprisingly diverse in the context of such bare surroundings. Likewise, Ashworth's storytelling is always front and center, often stealing away the stark, white light as on "Don't They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night?" where the his depiction of fated desolation is unremitting.

Ending on what might seem the album's highest thematic note, "Love Connection", we hear the loveliest song ever to have the word "menstrual" in it, but such candor serves a purpose. Even when achieving what the Painfully Alone have perpetually ached for, love comes with harsh, sensual reality and cynicism. Etiquette ends with a line repeated over and over: "Some things are best left unsaid." As the phrase resonates in consciousness and spirit, we must realize Owen Ashcroft has already said it all and would do it all again.

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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