Reviews

Oh Holy Fools

Author: Stephanie McNutt
07/21/2001 | Milkmag.com | www.milkmag.com | Album Review
Dear Saddle Creek Records,
You are, as a whole, my favorite record label of all time. Each subsequent release furthers my adoration and reminds me why I trust you so implicitly to release the best records of every year. Writing Record Review for your favorite band on your favorite record label is difficult for a number of reasons, especially when said band does a split with a band you cannot stand.

It's not so much that I dislike the music of Son, Ambulance as I am completely unable to listen to one of their songs in its entirety. I gave Son, Ambulance an initial chance when they were just Ambulance, and released a split with Bright Eyes through insound.com. However, after being disappointed a second time, I'm going to have to bring my proverbial reviewing foot down and say, "No more!"

Maybe it's because some of their songs sound like they were delivered straight from adult contemporary hell. ("It sounds like 70s soft rock, that's why I hate it!" one of my friends said.) Maybe it's due to Joe Knapp's vocal delivery, which I feel is strained at best and unbearably nasal at worst. Maybe the glut of singer-songwriters on the market has raised the bar on my judgment of softly-sung-boy-with-guitar (and, here, minimal piano-drums-and-bass) recordings. "Everyone else just lies to me; yeah they say you're a dream" sounds like something straight out of a Journey song, I'm afraid. And the "Whoo!"s at the end of "Kaite Come True" are pretty insufferable, though mercifully brief. (No offense, Joe.)

True to form, the four Bright Eyes tracks on Oh Holy Fools are easily the best they've ever done; they're a combination of the finest lyrics and most haunting musical arrangements around today. "No lies, just love" brings me to tears every single time I hear it. "Kathy with a K's Song" is the most convincing, beautiful love song I've ever heard. The amazing quality of these songs just makes it that much more confusing as to why they are released on a split with a comparably low-caliber band.


The fact that I am slavishly devoted to your label makes it very hard to say this, but... I'm sorry, Saddle Creek, a misstep has been made. The inclusion of Son, Ambulance on this record is a travesty. Although I think of you as having otherworldly wisdom and discretion, I would appreciate it if you would do your best to avoid such mistakes in the future.

All my love,
Stephanie McNutt
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