Saddle Creek | Now It's Overhead | Reviews


Now It's Overhead

Author: BH
01/01/2002 | | | Album Review
This is a wonderful record. It should be noted that "wonderful" here connotes not just "good," but exactly what the word suggests: full of wonder. This Athens, GA quartet includes several familiar faces, including Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes), plus Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink (Azure Ray). The spare yet luxuriant production that LeMaster has brought to Bright Eyes' records is intact here, as are Azure Ray's effervescent harmonies. But Now It's Overhead is impossible to break down to its building blocks. These lush, forbidding pop songs defy the facile reductions of critical language, like the inscrutable early works of REM.

This is a, gulp, concept album, and concept albums often suck, but Saddle Creek artists seem to have a flair for them (e.g. Cursive's Domestica and Bright Eyes' Fevers and Mirrors). Now It's Overhead's record is about the parabola that a relationship traces from onset to terminus, though luckily this conceit never overshadows the songs themselves. A vast array of pop (and more obscure) standards are alluded to, conveyed through gently cascading keyboards, hushed guitar, and throbbing, layered percussion. There's even a hint of world beat (especially on "Blackout Curtain"), though just enough to be exotically suggestive, not so much as to sound asinine and condescending. Vocally, LeMaster is similar to other slightly nasal crooners, like Built to Spill's Doug Martsch or the Weakerthans' John K. Samson. But these comparisons are anemic and forced. Now It's Overhead's debut album seethes with vitality and verve: it has heart that beats, and anima coursing in its veins.


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