CD Amoral [Violens] [5025425239854] (CD 7027746),
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Amoral [Violens] [5025425239854]

  • 1. Dawn of Your Happiness Is Rising, The
    2. Full Collision
    3. Acid Reign
    4. Are You Still in the Illusion?
    5. It Couldn't Be Perceived
    6. Until It's Unlit
    7. Violent Sensation Descends
    8. Could You Stand to Know?
    9. Trance-Like Turn
    10. Amoral
    11. Another Strike Restrained
    12. Generational Loss
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 0028

  • Credits
    ProducerJorge Elbrecht
    EngineerClaudius Mittendorfer

    Personnel: James Richardson (horns); Kris King (drums).
    Audio Mixer: Jorge Elbrecht.
    Photographer: Tom Hines .
    Amoral kicks off with a sharp, springy bass riff leading into "The Dawn of Your Happiness," an aptly named slice of buoyant, Beatlesque power pop in the vein of XTC or Jellyfish. It's a stunning, unexpected opening move coming from a hiply appointed N.Y.C. rock band c. 2010, but it turns out to be something of a bait-and-switch. Although there are similar strands of melodic sweetness and gobs of '60s-sparked harmonies scattered throughout the rest of the album, they rarely come together again in such a distinct, indelible fashion, save perhaps on the much gentler "Violent Sensation Descends," a lovely bit of paisley pop with a particularly Shins-ish vocal turn from frontman Jorge Elbrecht, bookended by freakish noise barrages which sound something like the Zombies being devoured by actual zombies. Instead, Violens work their way through a sea of arty guitar pop/rock influences, dredging up a slew of familiar post-punk, noise pop, and shoegaze touchstones, often all in the same track -- "Until It's Unlit," for instance, veers from a lite punk-funk groove oddly similar to Madonna's "Holiday" to dreamy, swirling psych-pop, to a crunchy, thrashing coda -- and often with pleasant results, but without ever settling on a coherent signature sound. Which is fine as far as it goes --Amoral sounds quite lustrous, and yields a few worthy take-away moments, including the soft, gauzy "Trance-Like Turn," and especially the gritty, propulsive, cheekily titled single "Acid Reign" (which hints at the muscular majesty of School of Seven Bells -- a band, by the way, who manage to do something far more distinctive with a similar set of influences) -- but it adds up to a disappointingly undistinguished whole. Violens are descended from Lansing-Dreiden, a dormant-if-not-defunct band (or, as they'd have it, "art company") notorious for their opacity and anonymity, who were frequently accused of using enigmatic, overblown posturing to mask a fundamental lack of substance. It's a lot easier to figure out what's going on -- and what's not -- with this new incarnation, and even though there's still something slippery about their stylistic orientation, and perhaps a dearth of tangible content, it's great to hear these guys ply their considerable musical gifts in the interest of musical pleasure rather than high-concept artiness. Amoral or not, this album serves as a reminder that the superficial can still sound pretty super. ~ K. Ross Hoffman

  • Critic Reviews
    Billboard (p.26) - "[A]ll of it is delivered with such an assured tone and an easy melodicism that nothing sounds particularly forced or labored....AMORAL is refreshingly original."
    Mojo (Publisher) (p.106) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[S]ongwriter-producer Jorge Elbrecht creates a sound that owes a heavy debt to the reverb-drenched, synth-sprinkled futurescapes of early Simple Minds, Pale Fountains and other quintessentially '80s adventurers."
    Uncut (magazine) (p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Sinister lyrics flit by almost unnoticed across the music's glistening sheen as Elbrecht hides in plain sight -- an impressive conjuring trick..."
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