Monday, 6 January 2014

The Yellow Dress - Faint Music//Ordinary Light

Album review by

"Tell me what you need to know and I will tell you everything" - this line is taken from 'Everything or Whatever (For Joen)', a track from this latest album by Californian supergroup The Yellow Dress. What you might want to know by reading a review is what the album sounds like, and in that respect The Yellow Dress do indeed tell us everything before we've heard a note. Firstly, the band is made up of numerous members from other alt-rock type bands, too many to mention in fact, especially if you take every member that's been a part of the project since it started in 2007, we're talking well into double figures. It's the bands listed as comparisons on their press release that give the game away: The Magnetic Fields, The Mountain Goats, Velvet Underground, The Feelies, Neutral Milk Hotel, Jonathan Richman. All of these can be heard infiltrating songs on 'Faint Music//Ordinary Light'.

"An old familiar song has fallen through the walls again" runs the opening line to 'Existential Heckle', and you could use that as a metaphor for this record as a whole, and that's a compliment. There is a familiarity about the music made by The Yellow Dress, and this is what makes it instantly appealing to those whose tastes lie in this particular area. Numerous repeat plays aren't needed for appreciation, because while there are clear influences, the songwriting and arrangements are spot on. From the perfect occasional use of backing vocals on first track 'Tummy In The Blood' to the subtlety of the instrumentation that's hidden within the regular guitar, bass and drums. It doesn't try and ram anything down your throat, it leaves surprises there to be discovered, so although the melodies and style are strong enough for an immediate hit, you are likely to unravel hidden layers as you get more used to the tracks here; something that's no mean feat.

The brass and twinkles of surging indie-rock number 'FatherSunFunRun/Walk Towardson/Daniel Pennypacker' (an unnecessary name if ever there was one) is made to be a single, as is 'Follow Through', and the sparkling, buzzing 'A Complete List of Fears Ages 5-28 (aprox)' is too. 'Isaac Fitzgerald (bum bum bum)' is another upbeat tune that could make for a good introduction. It's the attention to detail and the lack of filler that make this record the success that it is; getting such a consistency doesn't come easily, and whether it's on the aforementioned potential singles or slower tracks like 'An Elegy For Laura Shain' and others. There's a lot of heartbreak and heartache to be found in just about every corner of this album, and despite the fact that The Yellow Dress haven't reinvented any wheels, they've delivered a collection of indie-rock songs that's a bright and fulfilling as most comparable bands manage, and again, that's no mean feat.

'A Complete List of Fears Ages 5-28 (aprox) is a name-your-price download

The Yellow Dress' website

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