Friday, April 15, 2011

'Notes' by The Measure [sa]

By Justin Schwier (Underground Communique Records)
Rating: 4/5
No Idea Records

It’s odd to review a beloved band’s album after the “we’re breaking up” announcement, but if there’s a way to go out in style, Notes is a good point to exit. In hindsight, the tone of the album is a little melancholy, so I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this was going to be their swan song.

The album opens strong out of the gate with “Be Yours” and sets the pace quite well for the first half, showcasing how Lauren and Fid’s voices complimented each other so well, despite sounding so vastly different. The third track, “Unwritten” (finally in a non-Pink Couch Session acoustic version), really shines with the full band treatment. The album hits the most positive note with the song, “*Sigh*”. The next few songs are a bit of a roller coaster, going from upbeat to mid-tempo jams to faster punk tunes to almost country-tinged rock.

Even though individually the songs are great, the majority of the B-side of the LP (tracks 7-13) drag by a bit mainly because this is where the album gets darker. These songs would have been more suitable for the format where the band really shined: the 7” EP, though the standouts would be "St. Kathleen," "Privilege," "Criticism" and "Turning Point." That's not to say the songs aren't good; I just think they'd benefit from the isolation a single can only provide.

The last song is the song to bring the house down, so to speak. "Timburkulosis" is one of those magically epic somber songs that will send shivers down your spine. I’m guessing this song discusses the departure of the other core band member, longtime bassist Tim Burke. It’s a contemplative song, to say the least and a hell of a way to close out the album. When Lauren sings, “the truth is no one wants to be here, we had hopes of different cities, but how or when is still unclear” you can almost hear the band’s fate being weighed in her voice.

Even though I can’t consciously view the album without thinking about the fact that they decided to break up in the time since producing it, the album is a beautiful document of a really great and under-appreciated band. The best songs of the bunch will stay with you for life; and that’s not something I say very often.

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