07 April 2009

Album Review: The Long Lost - The Long Lost

I wanted to like this album. I really did. I sincerely tried. But the more I listened, the more I knew that this was not going to happen. Singer LauraDarlington, wife to would-be partner-in-crime Alfred Darlington, failed to convince me that their record is truly worthwhile.

One could say I knew it would be like this from the start. This album, 14 songs and 45 minutes long, started out interesting and never strayed the course. Unfortunately, they don't try hard to capture you, unless you think completely dopeyelectro-acoustic folk songs about love deserves your undivided attention. From the very first song, I felt Ms. Darlington's voice too inaccessible for subject matter that should close to heart. She sings soprano from a mountaintop, her whispery airs flowing around a guitar rhythm. Sometimes a drummer brushes his kit in the background. It's all very fine, but I can't feel a connection anywhere on the CD. The misses always muses from a distance. Her voice is there, but the atmosphere is so soft and relaxed that it's easy to slip out of listening. You would have to be perfectly engaged to keep our attention focused. And while it is indeed my job to listen to each and every CD that comes my way, even I found myself distracted after a time.

As I listened over and over again to understand the album, I found myself fascinated by the artistic choices the duo made. It's difficult to not call The Long Lost pretentious when their idiosyncratic rhythm and melody choices make appreciating their craft frustrating. Nothing illustrates this better than "Amiss," the second song. At first I'm led to believe that achirpy little ditty is about to happen. Then Laura's vocals come in, everything sounds syncopated and it's driving me insane. Call me a stickler for convention, but it grates on my nerves when you set up the beat and the lead instrument or lead vocal in contrast to each other. It doesn't feel right. Even more aggravating is when beautiful, great songs like "Sibilance," with all the elements in perfect balance, are broken up by off-target music; it's right after "Amiss."

Unfortunately, I get the feeling that The Long Lost is too long. Normally I would not fault 14 songs on a disc, but for the slow pace of this album, things don't work the same. Listening to the whole thing in one go requires great patience and a large volume of caffeine. This was to be expected, as the press release that came with the CD made clear that was a singer-songwriter's album, not an electronic one--Alfread Darlington's other (or at least one of them) project is Daedelus, which is distinctly electronica. "Ballroom Dance Club" is the only song that really uses electronic elements, with a mixed result.

Overall, I am not greatly impressed. I had a hard time getting over the premise of the album--acoustic folk songs slower than a geologic process withdisinterested , simplistic vocals to match. Admittedly, folk isn't my forte. My expectations of the CD were wrongly placed because the marketing misled me. Even then, I adjusted my criticism for this review. The album isn't boring, perse . To the casual listener and passerby, it will be. The average college student would probably not like the drawling "Siren Song," which sounds like it would be at home in a 1940's intellectual drama. I can only cite a couple songs that are remotely radio-worthy: "Sibilance" and "Finders Keepers." These hardly make up for the other 12 tunes. I asked myself, Do I want to bore my listeners? The answer was, No, not really.

1 comment:

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