For a band whose onesheet opens with the pointed “[includes former] member of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead during that band’s peak,” one would expect a band with some fire at their core. Instead, LVMRKS are an exercise in banality. The nine songs here trudge along at the same pace without any expression from vocalist and ex-Trail of Dead member Neil Busch, instead building solely on somber musical progressions and lulling soundscapes. The band, featuring Busch, a bassist in his previous band and now on vocals, guitar and keyboards, Jonathan Hischke (Broken Bells, Hella), and Dave Clifford (Red Sparrowes) has some intrigue—if from nothing else—from their background. Pale Fairytale, unfortunately, sounds just like one of those records of “ex-members” bands, collecting some recognizable faces but releasing a product that lacks the spark of all that namedropping.
It’s harsh, but Pale Fairytale just doesn’t capture attention. It’s not poorly executed, it’s just not interesting. The songs tend to blend together—and there are only eight (plus an unnecessary “Prelude” track midway through). In “Sidewalks of the Dawn,” Busch pleads for some drama, some intensity, but as he wails that “the neighbors scream in Spanish all night/ there will be no sleep tonight,” the listener herself is drifting away in attention. His vocals do draw more intrigue than the backing instrumentation, but they remain drab and unnecessarily dramatic considering the music’s failure to reciprocate that tone, inspiring a few yuck moments as in “Let Go.” Opener “Blue Eye Suicide” is probably the most interesting few minutes on the record, with an ‘80s synth-pop influence (minus the cheesy keys) and a bit of bounce to its step. Similarly, “Through Life I’ve Wandered” follows a repetitive hook as has some Smiths inspiration. As a whole, though, LVMRKS utilize repetitive rhythm without letting the hooks shine through, and it feels muted and empty. It has hints at the …Trail of Dead style progressions, but it lacks the crushing drums that set that band apart.
It’s interesting in that some music fans criticize instrumental music as boring and lacking in direction changes, building itself on soundscapes and tones more than rising tides of emotions, because LVMRKS feature two musicians whose past excelled in such a style while, with the addition of vocals here, the songs fall flat. Where both Hella and Red Sparrowes could shift an emotional tone through their songwriting, LVMRKS seems content to sit in the same key, waiting for somebody else to set off the action. Nine tracks and thirty-two minutes in, I’m still waiting.
5.5 / 10
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Posted April 17, 2013, 6:10 p.m.
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