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Although this self-titled album from Denver-based Land Lines is their debut, collaborations between some of the musicians involved have been ongoing for a decade, notably as members of Matson Jones. So it's a debut album under this guise, but the hands that crafted it have previous form. This may go some way to explaining the record's make-up. Rather than plumping for guitar, bass and drums, the mainstay for any indie/rock type band who are starting out, 'Land Lines' is made from piano, vocals, percussion and lots of cello. This will naturally have them labelled as "baroque" but they can't have too many arguments with that.
This album impresses in two main ways: firstly there are the songs; they're easy to listen to but clearly written with depth and character. 'Land Lines' might be unconventional in some ways but that doesn't mean it's destined to become nothing more than an interesting curiosity. The second way this album impresses is the writing and arranging. The turn of events that lead to each song is for the band to know. They could have started life as simple piano or guitar compositions as is often the case, then to be developed to fit the band's set-up, or they could have been born from the group sitting together with their instruments and jamming ideas until fully-fledged songs formed. What we do know is that some tracks here are reworkings of solo recordings made by different members over the past few years.
While 'Land Lines' is unlikely to spawn multiple number one singles, the success of artists such as PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi and even Florence and the Machine will have open the public's eyes to music created in more experimental and orchestral ways, and this chamber-pop stands as good a chance of winning fans now as it would have done in the past. Useful starting points for those who'd rather not jump in at the deep end might be the uptempo 'New Year' or the rockier opening track 'Bomb Blast'. The more traditional, folky 'Anniversary', 'Instruments and Books' (which also has a jazzy feel), plus 'Boards and Walls' the jittery, experimental 'Sleepwalking' are worthy of mentions too, but really it's difficult to find fault with any of the songs included here. A good job well done.
Land Lines' website
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