Herein lies a rundown of all the new-to-me albums acquired in February, listed in the order I heard them. Happily, no disappointments this month!
Low: Trust (2002)
I mentioned earlier this month that I'd picked up Trust because I wanted to get back on board with Low, starting with where I left off. I'd heard a few songs from Trust when it first came out and didn't feel moved to get it—my impression was that it was, finally and inevitably, "just another Low album." Hearing it in full all these years later, that feeling is in some ways confirmed and in others repudiated. In fact it doesn't sound just like any of the albums that came before it. Whereas on prior albums they loaded their albums with beautiful songs and just a couple containing a dash of anger—think "Don't Understand" from Secret Name—here they piled on the edgy songs so the ratio is more 50/50. Not to say I don't like Low when they get this way—Songs for a Dead Pilot is among my favorites in their discography—but that's where the confirmation comes. They have done these kinds of songs before, here and there since at least The Curtain Hits the Cast. Thus nothing here feels surprising or fresh. It's not a bad album by any stretch; I'm glad I finally got around to getting it. It's just not the one I'd recommend to new fans. Previously.
John Vanderslice: White Wilderness (2011)
Solid from beginning to end, but only really great for a few tracks in the middle. Review.
- John Vanderslice: After It Ends
Disappears: Guider (2011)
I really like Disappears but I also want them to add to their palate. "Revisiting" indicates they can do it—will they? Review (including a youtube of "Revisiting," which is too long a song to include here).
- Disappears: Halo
Seefeel: Succour (1995)
Until last year, Seefeel was a 90s act that I mostly missed the boat on. I bought Quique, the canonized masterpiece, and then I more or less stopped there. Everything I read said the group never recaptured the glory of that album. Hearing Succour, their followup to Quique, I now feel like a sucker (sucker/succour ha ha). This album is lovely! In fact I think I like it more.
- Seefeel: Rupt
Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)
This doesn't happen often, but I feel I have the least to say about the album I might like the most of this bunch. Ravedeath, 1972 is a beautiful and edgy ambient record. It starts with typical instruments—piano, organ, guitar—and subjects them to so much decay that the whole experience is rendered abstract. I really enjoy this album though I feel like I'm still ten or twelve listens away from fully understanding why I enjoy it.
- Tim Hecker: In The Air I
Radiohead: King of Limbs (2011)
So Radiohead have turned in an album that does not measure up to its others—an insane level of expectation, even for Radiohead. It's true that The King of Limbs is battling Hail to the Thief for the honor of sixth or seventh best Radiohead album, but that's not the same as saying it's bad. Many other reviews have noted that The King of Limbs feels less like an album and more like two EPs. Radiohead seem to have made this split quite intentionally; the vinyl version of the album is packaged as two 10" discs. From there you can break it down even further—not two halves but four sides, each side a pair of tracks. In other words it seems The King of Limbs is meant to be consumed in small doses, just a couple tracks at a time with a pause in between, long enough to flip sides. Thinking of the album this way helps explain why it doesn't hang together very well as an "album experience," the way so many Radiohead albums do (OK Computer is downright cinematic, for instance). It also illuminates why, given time and repeated listens, it becomes more compelling. The parts are better than the whole.
- Radiohead: Little By Little