There are certain labels as a music fan that I follow wholeheartedly. I could say The Mylene Sheath is one of these labels for me. They have a strong reputation for putting out spacey post-rock with a flair for nice packaging. So I was kind of excited to be able to check out one of the labels most recent signings.
Actors & Actresses hail from Kansas City which certainly belies the icy tone the music carries. The band plays atmospheric shoegazey post-rock. This carries an emphasis on the riff rather than much else. While they play strongly and do a lot, as a three piece, they fit nicely and clearly into this genre.
Arrows opens with the first of many spacey washes of effects covered guitars and looped electronic percussion. After this short intro things really begin to get underway. The band focuses more on the melody and feeling than much else. The guitars float over everything else in the mix letting the listener know what to focus on. While the bass does come in from time to time to take lead (i.e. "Our Hallowed Day") resulting in a much heavier and stronger overall sound this is rarely taken advantage of.
As mentioned before the focus on this album is the mighty riff. What this does is make sure that even the soothing vocal lines get over shadowed and almost become another riff in and of itself. The melodic vocals could make this band stick out but, due to the way this seems to have been recorded they seem unnecessary, almost an afterthought. while the drums do anchor everything together they get little space withing the mix, only making them selves stick out when the guitars drop out of the mix or get forced to the back on a rare occasion. The band on this recording is best compared to Sigur Rós. While not nearly as majestic or strong in the vocal category they carry a certain similarity no less. There lacks an iciness and the mysteriousness of Jonsi's falsetto to really propel them to that point. I say this doubting they are really trying to be the aforementioned band but hey there a re worse bands to be like.
Where this falls short as a release is both in the production and the packaging. While the artwork is not ill suited for the music there is nothing special about it either same with the packaging itself. For a label known for their attention to detail when it comes to presentation this one seems to have slipped by at bit. The production is just overbearing bordering on compressed and lifeless. That is to say it sounds too clean and sadly doesn't carry a single hint of being at all organic. In some cases that may work, but with this band it doesn't feel as though it fits. So in summation what we have is an overall very good if not slightly innocuous post rock LP with vocals. There is tons of potential to be had here but not much of the is truly reached.
7.3 / 10
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