Author: Adam McKibbin
11/01/2004 | Outburn | www.outburn.com | Album Review
Vulnerable indie pop: because of a shared label and an introductory split EP, Son, Ambulance leader Joe Knapp is unfairly christened as a Bright Eyes sidekick. While they share certain emotive penchants, Knapp is a lighter and more restless singer/songwriter, and Key bears the ambitious if sometimes unsteady fruit of his evolution. He's backed by a new band, and they make a world of difference, eschewing the DIY bedroom aesthetic for smart, sprawling orechestral arrangements. Influenced by classic pop princes like Elivs Costello, Knapp and company also recall a slew of other influences, bu tSon, Ambulancedoesn't seem interested in finding their own signature. Key may take several listens before it lingers in the memory banks, but its charms are worth the effort. "Paper Snowflakes" is an early highlihgt, a dreamy piano ballad with a Britpop stamp. Knapp's vocals are grounded even as they're crackling, and this fagility play nicely off the boisterous instrumentation beneath. Son, Ambulance is equally at home whether becoming the shambling neighborhood rock band ("Taxi Cab Driver") or channeling the ghost of "Hey Jude" ("Case of You/Wrinkle Wrinkle"). Their least effective mode is the jittery emo i "Sex in C Minor," a messy hybrid of Coldplay, Bright Eyes and Rainer Maria.