Saddle Creek | Beep Beep | Reviews


Enchanted Islands

Author: Alex Burton
03/04/2009 | | | Album Review
Saddle Creek has built a reputation on signing bands with a unique brand of indie rock that encompasses pop hooks, lyrical prowess, and a knack for understanding the science of song structure and dynamics. Artists like Bright Eyes, The Faint, Rilo Kiley, and Cursive brought the label immense popularity and bridged the gap between snotty hipsters and less discerning music fans, matching huge hooks with credible musicianship and songwriting. Given this history of such impressive consistency of style, Beep Beep's Enchanted Islands is a head-scratcher.

Beep Beep are a tough band to classify. At moments they exhibit brief bursts of pop sensibility, but then abruptly turn to jazzy breakdowns and spastic guitar freak-outs. However, the songs feel non-linear and unnecessarily so. It's as if the band is purposely keeping themselves from holding onto comfortable grooves or melodies. On "Secrets for the Well," the band opens into an atmospheric bass driven track akin to Folk Implosion's "Natural One," but after 2 minutes of enjoyable aural cruising, the band switches to a polyrhythmic bridge that never resolves back into the heart and soul of the song, leaving the arc incomplete and the listener unsatisfied. It's dissonance for the sake of dissonance, and it ruins one of the best moments on the record.

At times Beep Beep has too many ideas and, at others, not enough of them. "Mermaid Struggle" starts out strong with a bizarre guitar lick that, despite some of the uncomfortable note choices, is memorable and enjoyable. However, the band stuffs too many time signature changes and additional interludes into the song for the listener to be able to get comfortable with the track. Album opener "I See You!" pairs a Tim Kasher-esque breathy falsetto with a quirky guitar line (also reminiscent of Cursive), but clocking in at only 0:55, it never develops into the gem that it could be.

The band does deliver some strong cuts when it wants to. Some of the more subdued songs deliver the most impact, like on "Return to Me," where although the song never climaxes dynamically, the rolling cadence of the guitar and drum interplay offer a smooth and lilting experience. The band manages to repeat this success on "The Lion's Mouth," which centers around a beautiful organ line and the aforementioned falsetto.

The album is also too long, especially given Beep Beep's ADHD style, and Enchanted Islands fails to keep the listener's attention for all 14 tracks. The record is also front-loaded with the band showing their best work and the extent of their diversity within the first 6 tracks. There's clearly talent here, but somebody needs to help this band focus on their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses. Likewise, a little Adderall to help with the writing process might not hurt either.


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