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Keepaway – Black Flute January 15, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
Tags: ,

Artist: Keepaway

Album: Black Flute

Release: Greedhead, 2012

Genre: Experimental

RIYD: Yeasayer, Nurses, Animal Collective

Brooklyn psych-pop band Keepaway burst into the scene with their incredible single “Yellow Wings” back in 2010, drawing comparisons to both the synthwork of similarly psychedelic acts such as Animal Collective and Yeasayer and to the guitar riffs of indie rock greats like Modest Mouse and Built To Spill. Unfortunately, the rest of the material on those first two EPs was mostly hit-or-miss, with the few good tracks “5 Rings” and “Sideways Smile” buried amidst a lot of uninspired filler. But, at their best, their sound was bright, dynamic, and surprisingly unique despite all of the comparisons, and they showed a lot of promise.

Now, two years since, they’ve finally released their debut full-length, Black Flute. The record finds the band haunted by the same problems, as a lot of these songs are duds and most view the album as a huge disappointment compared to “Yellow Wings” and “Sideways Smile”. The vocals are less energetic: gone are the “Did You See The Words?”-like screams of pleasure and delight that made those tracks so excellent. In addition, the song structures are looser and more meandering, and the album has a very quiet feel that is unexpected from the band that started with such a big sound.

However, despite the fact that Black Flute is by no means a great record, something about a few of the tracks continued to lure me back in each time I tried to listen to something else instead. Of course, there are quite a few misses, but fortunately there are also a few subtly intriguing “hits”. After only one or two listens, I would find myself humming the whimsical chorus of “Bomber” over and over in my head as I walked to the bus or singing about “Royal Jelly” in the shower. Lead single “Cake” also has its own charm, “Stunner” has a killer bridge that ties the mess of a song together, and the live version of “Erika” also stands out against the drab atmosphere of the filler tracks in between. On these few tracks, the band shows a clear talent for constructing inviting yet quirky soundscapes to fit their vocals, layering on the gentle synths as they wander through their off-kilter melodies.

Ultimately, I’m recommending this album only for those few treats within it, as Black Flute has proven to be a perfect example of the work of a band that has matured too soon. Their sound has lost the vibrancy of its youth, but while that is definitely something to lament, we can also at least celebrate the originality of the few good tracks that came as a result. There are still sweet spots on this band’s over-ripe and occasionally rotten fruits.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/33946250]


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