Friday, October 12, 2007

One Crowded Hour, Indeed

Augie March: Moo, You Bloody Choir

The first song on Augie March's third album, "One Crowded Hour," is pulling triple duty. It's the album opener, the best song, and its title is a pretty good description of the album as a whole. This is a very crowded album! In many places the producers seem to have given up on getting everything to fit in, surrendering instead to the muddy vibe that results from too many things going on and too few decisions made about what to bring forward and what to push back.

It's also crowded stylistically; one moment Moo, You Bloody Choir sounds like it wants to be a Crowded House album or a Neil Finn solo record, but moments later it's doing a Dylan impression (though not, it must be said, an especially good one). Some might call this range! But to make an album so ambitious, to give it cover art so pretentious, is to promise that it's actually about something. This album isn't sure what it is or what it wants to be, and at more than an hour it can't sustain its momentum.

That's not to say there aren't highlights; while the lyrics for "Just Passing Through" are a bit silly, the song has an actual structure, and the way it builds and recedes gives me little chills every time I listen. "There is No Such Place" is a very pretty ballad. And nothing here is downright bad. It just isn't amazing.

This review has been posted on Moo, You Bloody Choir was provided for review as part of Amazon's Vine program.

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