Reviews

The Scenery of Farewell

Author: Sara Sherr
06/22/2007 | Pitchforkmedia.com | www.pitchforkmedia.com | Album Review
Two Gallants are no strangers to controversy. What the Toll Tells, their 2006 debut for Saddle Creek, included "Long Summer Day", a song written from the perspective of a slave, which raised issues of racism and misappropriation, including from Pitchfork reviewer Brian Howe. Then, while playing a show last fall in Houston, the San Francisco duo had an unfortunate run-in with the police that ended in violence and arrest. Their ultimately triumphant legal battles and hectic tour schedule left Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel little time to craft a proper full-length (one is due out in September), so in the meantime they've recorded some acoustic tracks at sound checks and radio appearances.

The Scenery of Farewell is a different direction for the usually raucous TG, who've earned comparisons to a Southern White Stripes or an American Pogues by dragging ratty garage-punk through the muddy country. Instead, their more intimate, stripped-down approach (including flourishes of piano and various string instruments like cello, double, bass, and violin) likens them more to roots rockers like the Jayhawks and the Avett Brothers, along with nods to acoustic Neil Young and the Band.

Many of the EP's themes are about life on the road, alienation, and loneliness, the struggle to keep long distance (geographical and emotional) relationships going and when to say goodbye to them. String-drenched opener "Seems Like Home to Me" is a weary lament about a woman with oceans for eyes. "Lady" goes "where the hobos sleep" and admits to "count[ing] my thoughts with coffee spoons." The strings and harmonicas of "Up the Country" lament, "I've seen salvation's yard but every highwayman's been barred." "All Your Faithless Loyalties" is an early Dylan-styled kiss-off akin to "It Ain't Me Babe". With the piano ballad closer, "Linger", it's hard to tell if they are men in love or men at war. Love is a battlefield, after all.

While the intimate settings give Two Gallants a different palette for themselves and their fans, as well as a spotlight on their literate lyrics, the songs are a little too similar sounding. The Scenery of Farewell is a decent lazy summer listen, but it doesn't leave a lasting impression and is probably not enough to convert anyone who isn't already a fan. In turning down the volume, the band loses much of its unique personality, love it or hate it.
The Scenery of Farewell

The Scenery of Farewell

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