Saddle Creek | Sorry About Dresden | Reviews


The Convenience of Indecision

Author: Will Robinson Sheff
02/04/2002 | | | Album Review
Sorry About Dresden Don't worry about it.

Sorry about Dresden' s primary claim to fame is that their frontman, Matt Oberst, is the brother of Conor Oberst of the extremely popular chamber-indie outfit Bright Eyes. This state of affairs may seem somewhat backassward considering that the older Matt has been playing music for much longer than his better-known kid brother, but Sorry about Dresden's fine sophomore effort The Convenience of Indecision (Saddle Creek) could finally remedy this wide disparity in indie repute between the two Obersts. If not, at least there'll be no confusion between the two bands: on The Convenience of Indecision, Sorry about Dresden's earnest yearning and loose-limbed rockisms display more in common with the general Saddle Creek vibe than with Bright Eyes' frantic, folk-wreck attack.
Saddle Creek represents the young indie world's closest modern analogue to 4AD in their storied glory days; over the last few years, the label's releases have established a clear aesthetic that is consistent from release to release in both packaging (Saddle Creek's designs are artily attractive, fussy, and frequently use unconventional high-quality paper stocks) and musical feel (Saddle Creek's bands are precocious, earnest, and largely irony-free). Sorry about Dresden not only exhibit the Saddle Creek aesthetic, they seem to embody it in a particularly distilled form, blending the emotional dynamics of Cursive with the poetics of Bright Eyes and the immaculate acoustic touches of Lullaby for the Working Class (nearly all of whom are represented in the album's guest credits).
From outside of this mix, Sorry about Dresden import some fresh influences, all indie-rock royalty. "Deadship, Darkship," for example, is delivered by Oberst with a nasal-drip insouciance that echoes Spoon's Britt Daniel. Meanwhile, "It's Morning Again in America" could have been an outtake from Eric Bachmann's Bring on the Snakes Crooked Fingers record.
This is not to say that Sorry about Dresden is merely rehashing, though; that same track, for example, does the best example I've ever heard of integrating a banjo and piano seamlessly in a way that's both immediately intuitive and weirdly poppy, and even prettier is "On Contradiction," which ornaments its hairpin dynamic changes with delicious cascades of vibraphone and breathy "oohs." This skill at making dissimilar instruments similarly gorgeous, and of mixing energetic drive with moments of unrushed expression, is what gives The Convenience of Indecision its particular charm, and what proves that Matt Oberst is no Livingston Taylor.


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