An odd record, one that has moments of promise and excitement but is crippled by confusion. Driven at its core by jazz musicians who lean more towards the progressive, compositional end of the spectrum, the band makes claims to sophisticated processes that aren’t reflected in the results. It doesn’t ultimately mean anything that that leader singer and guitarist Angelo Spagnolo writes narrative ‘roots’ style songs to which he applies a concept that melody is ‘a series of events in time.’ Of course it is, all music is, the concept leads to nothing.
It also creates an unsatisfying, pretentious mess. The songs are episodic, a valid way to make music, but in a way that is choppy and leaves every idea unfinished and discarded. Stylistically, the music owes so much to Sufjan Stevens’ aesthetic that, through the compositional method (such as it is), Spagnolo’s weak vocals and the overly dense, too-upfront production, makes the group sound like an inferior cover band trying to remember what Illinoise sounds like. There are flashes of creative playing that hint at an exciting combination of pop song craft and expressive freedom in the playing, but that may have to do more with the talents of the individual musicians. Like it or not, this is an attempt at pop, and the songs need to be coherent. Even on their own vaguely avant-garde terms, they’re not. High concept, low results.