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October 2014
Mumblr
"Full Of Snakes
"
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The major takeaway for Mumblr’s new album Full Of Snakes (Fleeting Youth Records) is that it really takes balls to write songs that truly say nothing. As counter intuitive as it may sound, there really is something admirable in using music to not really express all that much. Any jerk with a voice and a few chords can say a whole lot about how their ex is horrible; what really matters is how much of that content is actually worth hearing. And brother, Mumblr has found a way to make saying nothing profound.

On the surface, the album initially sounds like some sort of early 2000’s generic pop-punk; the first song “Got It” opens with that familiar sense of vague, safe anger. It’s very “high school” reminiscent, right off the bat, with lines like “I got it if you want it” and “I’ll invite you to my room.” But as the song closes and we drift into “Sober,” the tone very gradually starts to feel off. It starts to feel a bit weirder, with this sense of reckless abandon that you only hear in a Violent Femmes song. And it’s not that one is true, and the others is not; this album is walking a razor’s edge between the most self-aware of indie post-punk and the obliviousness of adolescent guilty pleasures.

And while that may sound like a chaotic mess, the seventeen-track full-length really is the having-and-eating of one's cake. We get the indulgence of grandiose guitar riffs and over the top shrieks, but with just enough originality in the composition to give it a sense of being slick and even avant-garde. Don’t let the outward sense of crazy abandon fool you - this thing is airtight. And a lot of that can be chalked up to Nick Morrison’s vocals; he brings a real sense of cleverness to the whole thing, in no small part to the fact that he can turn his voice on a dime.

One endlessly fascinating reoccurring theme is the use of repetition in their lyrics, with phrases like the aforementioned “I got it” and “someone’s been sitting in my chair” echoed over and over again, beyond the point of simple parody. It’s that old artistic trope of repeating something until it becomes meaninglessly applied to lyrics, and it’s interesting to hear expressions of youthful angst to become so alien and meaningless.

They take these universal touchstones of adolescences, including the use of “shock” lyrics such as “if God is a woman I’m going to hell” and gleefully drive them into the ground while enjoying the ride. It’s fun, it’s cool, and will leave you thinking more than any other post-punk album in months. And it does so while still being a genuinely fun throwback to a sort of music that you don’t really hear in earnest these days. - Daniel Ludwig

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The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

Versailles and French Surrealism are cited as influences for Sun Airway’s sophomore full-length album, Soft Fall. Yeah, pretty much: with lush arrangements and massive textures of sound, Soft Fall, is a giant, gorgeous record decked with chopped-up classical music samples and hooks that envelop the listener. Sun Airway’s all-encompassing sense of maximalism echoes what M83 did last year on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, making the familiar, comfortable turns of pop music vibrant and fresh by infusing some reverb and a soothing synth-tone. The result is a record that feels safe - not safe in the sense that it’s dull and afraid to take risks, but safe in the way that home feels safe, in the way you know the roads, the haunts, the people, and intrinsically understand that you’re not in any danger.
 
Yep, we’re in dream-pop territory, and Sun Airway’s Jon Barthmus plays admirably to the genre’s strengths. Guitar and keyboard lines come together like coast and tide - the line definitely there but impossible to define. Governing it all is Barthmus’ smooth, breathy baritone, which is seductive without flair for dramatics. On album highlight “Close,” he sighs “you’ve never known loneliness before/I tried to get close to you,” which sounds pretty glum, but the song itself is practically ecstatic. The work on that is done by breakneck drums, an impressionistic Cure hook and a guitar occasionally squealing gleefully in the background. Barthmus’ understated vocals give the song room to soar, and soar it does; it’s an absolutely killer tune. Instrumental interludes are scattered throughout the LP guiding you to and from other standouts on the record like “Wild Palms” and “Symphony In White No. 2” (that also appeared together last year on the 7” vinyl single that followed the band’s beautiful debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier).
 
As is often the case with dream-pop, the sonic palette that washes melodic lines together eventually extends to the songs themselves, and while Soft Fall is never boring, the distinctions between individual tracks become less and less vital as the album gels into one solid artistic statement, which makes Soft Fall a perfect little record to escape with. It’s a great way to drop menial anxieties for nearly 45 minutes and enter a pleasant state where nothing will frighten you and you’re comfortably safe as can be making any fall more enjoyable as you take in the sights from above. Soft Fall officially drops tomorrow via Dead Oceans. - Adam Downer
 

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