Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Wrens - The Meadowlands

The Meadowlands is a somewhat mysterious album. At first blush it's a pretty standard seeming pop rock album, but with not much listening you can tell there's definitely more to it than that. The singer is a gigantic mumbler, with a pleasant voice that he likes to obscure behind indistinct vocals, but if you actually pay attention to the lyrics they can be pretty darn great. Apparently they had some issues with their previous label that heavily delayed the release of a new album, and this is partially the result of those problems. There's also a lot of stuff in there that seems to be about a more traditional kind of relationship that has fallen apart, and there's a pretty clear melancholy through the whole thing that keeps it dark and interesting, even when a few of the songs aren't as completely entertaining as the best ones.

But there are definitely a lot of good songs. The one I always heard before I got the album was "Everyone Choose Sides", which begins with a nice crunchy riff and unfolds into something more, constantly switching things up without relying on one idea at any time. "She Sends Kisses" and "Ex-Girl Collection" are also standouts, both musically and lyrically, with the former taking a full three minutes to get to something resembling a chorus, and the latter having some of its better turns of phrase obscured by a lot of half-shouted, half-sung sustained notes. "Faster Gun" is probably the hardest track here, and also the least comprehensible, but generally a good change from the rest of the album. "13 Months in 6 Minutes" is another favorite, maintaining a unique and interesting sound through its whole length. Heck, even the short opening and closing not-actual-songs are nice, the first with some added effects that bring a nostalgic feel, and the last with strained, shouting vocals that bring power to something otherwise quite simple. It's a very good album, with appeal beyond where I might otherwise limit the extent of its genre.

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