Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bashed by The Silent Ballet!

I guess I better stop doing vocals, eh?!

The SIlent Ballet:

Score: 5/10

It takes balls to name your group after a giant, but that’s what these not-so-great Danes have done. The Worries is an apt title for this disk, because after listening to the album I have many worries – worries about their talent, worries about their judgment, and most especially, worries about their vocals.

Here at The Silent Ballet, we love instrumental post-rock, and, although some may pigeonhole us because of this, we actually don’t mind vocals if they are unobtrusive and/or well done. Many excellent groups have enhanced their albums with judiciously-placed lyrics or sound samples, and occasionally we encounter a singer who blows us away with tender inflection or remarkable range.

Neither is the case with Mimas. Snævar Albertsson has an odd inflection, a tendency to slip into falsetto at inappropriate moments, and the lyrics range from distractingly cute to horrifyingly awry. The most grating example arrives on “Dads,” right after a four-minute trumpet solo: “The smell, the sweat and the deodorant, the doctor’s recommendations, the friends they smell even worse, even worse than my armpits, armpits, and the worries, and my armpits, my armpits.” Not sure how The Village Voice missed this one, but it definitely deserves to be in the “Worst Lyrics of 2008” bracket.

At other times, Mimas approaches Spinal Tap territory, with earnest choruses designed to be sung in a crowded stadium of dweebs, dorks and dimwits: “The ro-bot, the ro-o-o-bot, the ro-bot won’t stop you” is repeated ad infinitum against a growing backdrop, ending with a self-indulgent a cappella, in “Treehouse.” The last time through, the chorus ends with the word, “stop.” Clever, eh?

Then there’s the problem of influences. The album’s best riff is found in the opening moments of “Why In the World Not?”, but the riff works because it is familiar; those immersed in the genre may be able to place the source. Likewise the inflection on “Dr. Phil’s Retirement,” a clear homage/ripoff of Her Name Is Calla's “Condor and River.” When Albertsson sings, “Good news to all, our son died last fall,” it’s not entirely clear if we are supposed to be sad or amused – which is certainly problematic. At least “Why In the World Not?” has the decency to close with a chorus of “La’s,” sparing us the cringe factor.

The maddening thing about The Worries is that the instrumentation is decent throughout, so the album cannot be altogether dismissed. The trumpet on closer “Beneath the Glad Sunbeam” is a welcome respite, and garners a host of good feelings. That is, until the vocals once again rear their ugly head. The first lyrics after a wondrous multi-guitar build: “His hands smelled of meat.”

There’s a simple solution: the singer is also the band’s trumpet player, and one can’t do both at once – so why not substitute the brass for the brash? Mimas has the potential to become a major player in the post-rock instrumental scene, and they’re only one big change away.

-Richard Allen

1 comment:

The guitarplayer said...

If you really want me to I can take over the vocal duties....