Reviews

The Drinks We Drank Last Night

Author: William Morris
09/23/2003 | Pitchfork Media | www.pitchforkmedia.com | Album Review
the perfect bite. n. 1. The singular consumption of a mouthful sized arrangement of food composed exclusively of each distinct, fundamental ingredient of a select recipe.

As in, mid-meal (directly after each curious female at my table abruptly loses interest in her own selection), from my Cobb Salad; a leaf each of iceberg and romaine lettuce, a piece each of bacon and chicken, a diced tomato cube, a bit off egg, a single scallion, a crumb of Roquefort cheese, and just a touch of dressing. Now, I don't want to incite a debate on gender scripting, but it's been my experience that girls happen to love the perfect bite. My sister loves the perfect bite. Swears by it. I hate the perfect bite. It obviates randomness and strangles variety. Also, it ruins my meal.

This three-song offering is Azure Ray's perfect bite, the shortest and most accurate response to the question: What do they sound like? Omaha-by-way-of-Athens duo Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor again hit the studio with Eric Bachmann (Crooked Fingers, Archers of Loaf) as producer, in efforts towards their upcoming full-length Hold on Love , which promises a slightly new recipe for their sound. For the EP, however, we're treated to more of the intimate, downtempo, serene moments the ladies have wrought since inception.

"The Drinks We Drank Last Night" is pulled directly from the new album, and could certainly find a home on last year's Burn & Shiver . The formula remains true to the original blueprint of the duo's sound. Slowly undulating and understated ambience coupled with signature gentle acoustic picking set in before quietly retreating below the effortless hush of the duo's vocals. With the flawless production at hand the vocals take on an even more tranquil quality than previous offerings, just begging to grace a pair of headphones. In fact, the subtle variations in vocal renderings between the three songs are the only true variants within the album, which follows logically given no-one has any misconceptions about where Azure Ray's bread is buttered.

"The Love of Two", the only non-album track, is the most atmospheric, as well as most memorable. An incessant vinyl scratch murmurs beneath a subtle vocal tonality reminiscent of Mazzy Star, which, distant and haunted, provides an excellent equipoise to the visceral production. A "Bleed Version" of the album-inclusive "We Are Mice" rounds out the disc with sparse piano backing and choral vocals that I swear could only be described as uncannily Sarah McLachlan-esque. There are no true departures to be found, merely minor tweaking. Unfortunately, the lyrics still read a bit much like Felicity's diary, but such a regrettable lyrical acumen can easily be overlooked; this music is tactile at heart. If the duo can simply up the cerebral factor and maybe add a little spice to the mix, a real statement could be served up.


Releases

All »

As Above So Below

As Above So Below

LP / Deluxe LP / CD / MP3


Drawing Down the Moon

Drawing Down the Moon

LP / CD / MP3