Reviews

Euphemystic

Author: A.K. Gold
9/10/2001 | Nude as the News | www.nudeasthenews.com | Album Review
Rating: 6.5
I'm developing quite a love-hate relationship with Son,Ambulance. On their debut effort, the split EP Oh Holy Fools (Saddle Creek), which featured Son and Bright Eyes, I was pretty convinced of the band and lead singer Joe Knapp's potential for crafting off-kilter, longing-filled pop songs. But after catching Son, Ambulance live a couple of weeks ago, I had to wonder if the band just reaps the musical benefit of producer Mike Mogis' (Bright Eyes, Cursive, The Faint) keen ear for production and arrangement. Those harsh words being said, Euphemystic isn't a bad record. The uptempo "An Instant Birth" is filled with Jeff TaFolla's quirky keyboard lines and Jeff Koster's syncopation-inflected drum work while "Maria In Motion" has Knapp invoking the excitable vocal delivery and foreign language phrasings of David Byrne atop a sparse arrangement including a subtle and effective wood block part. Son, Ambulance tends to falter on the sprawling, less cohesive arrangements like the album closing "Violet," which sounds like it was included solely so there could be a mention of a guest vocal performance by Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst. At other junctures, the indistinctness of the tracks from one another (and from some of the more middle-of-the-road '70s singer/songwriter fair) just leaves the listener, or in this case, the listener-critic for want. I won't discount Son, Ambulance yet, because of the hints of solid pop songcraft that emerge throughout the record. However, if you are in search of a stronger set of songs and an appearance by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, you might as well just stick to Oh Holy Fools.
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