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Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
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Aural Pleasure Review

England in 1819: 'Alma'

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As often as indie rock lauds singers with fractured voices, it's powerful when a singer can truly sing and use their vocals to propel a song. England in 1819's Andrew Callaway can croon and also write some beautifully brooding music ripe with interesting harmonic movement. The band's second album seems like a close brethren to the work of Shearwater in terms of tasteful grandiosity and Callaway's Mark Hollis-esque vocals. For a record that's consistently strong, the album's weakest track is opener "Air That We Once Breathed." The song effectively sets the melancholy mood of the record but its meter changes, orchestration, and shifting sections seem awkward when compared to how effectively the band pulls off similar moves on "Skyscraper" and the title cut. Luckily, the subsequent "Blue Ribbon" is the perfect antidote that comes off like vintage Mark Kozelek mixed with late '90s Radiohead. Later, the band's experiments with Tortoise-esque instrumentals hint at exciting future directions. It's clear that England in 1819 knows the dramatic effect of post-rock crescendos, but that constant dynamic shape occasionally seems like a crutch. However, I'm sure that those crescendos will be thrilling to witness if and when the band plays at 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, at Moses Roses.

★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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