Saddle Creek | Broken Spindles | Reviews



Author: TImothy Golden
08/23/2005 | | | Album Review
Without a doubt, reviews are going to be mixed on this album. Some, most likely being Saddle Creek diehards, will say that this is another unique and fulfilling entry into the land of indie/electronic experimentation, complete with a concept that's intriguing, and content that's thought-provoking. The rest, being everyone else, are probably going to dislike this, claiming that it's too simplistic and dull to have any lasting effect on anyone, let alone be listenable.

Fortunately for Joel Petersen (The Faint, Beep Beep), the brains behind Broken Spindles, both of the above parties have their valid points and not just the latter. Inside/Absent is a valiant effort; it's not afraid to be expressive, despite how bleak its subject matter really is. Petersen has a lot to say about life in general, and he definitely has a unique way of going about it. His lyrics aren't typically Saddle Creek -- they're not verbose or pretentious. They're kind of like the lyrics you'd write if you were in high school and just getting into some dark and depressing, yet self-involved artists, like Nine Inch Nails. Not to say Petersen is as daunting as Reznor, but he does have a lot of similarities to the former industrial kingpin. He almost never smiles, never looks on the bright side of life (maybe he should go watch Monty Python?), and never thinks of the glass as half full.

That kind of attitude is what kills Inside/Absent. It's too dark and dismissive to really be anything. The music is competent, not really containing too many different sounds and ideas but just enough to make it interesting, but the vocals are too monotone-y and, although they seem to go with the moods presented here, don't really do anything to add to the songs. This is the type of album that work better as an instrumental one (much like Petersen's first album under the monicker). Only one instance disputes that here, and that's "Anniversary", the second to last track on this very, very short album. The rest of the time, the bland vocals ruin whatever instrumentation is playing behind them.

While this isn't as interesting as Petersen's earlier efforts under the same name, it's not a total bust like most are going to claim it is. Sure, it's bland, it has a moment where it totally rips off that annoying song "Da Da Da" (from the Volkswagen commercials, remember?) in the last song, and Petersen's vocals royally suck. However, there's more than enough interesting, simplistic electronica to satisfy anyone who likes either of Petersen's other bands. He's not the most interesting or effective musician dallying in the genre, but he's definitely not the worst.


LP / CD / MP3