Friday, 24 April 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: Now, Now Every Children - Cars

Ah, grammar. Where would the English-writing media be without its pedantic boundaries? Well, if today’s young ‘uns continue to scoff in the face of semantics and profit-sponging moguls decide to ‘relate’, we’ll be riding the crest of a tabloid-talking, SMS-jiving wave very soon. But right now, while the Queen’s English reigns supreme, there’s no rag redder in the eyes of a journalist (or, surely, a reader?) than illogical, ill-conceived sentence construction.

With this in mind, the question has to be asked: just what were Cacie Dalager and Brad Hale thinking? By completely disregarding basic grammatical rules with THAT moniker, the Minneapolis duo have earmarked themselves as fodder for every Lynne Truss-following stickler who puts pen to paper. Then again, perhaps it’s a defiant act of intent; an attention-grabbing fuck you aimed at people like me? Christ knows, we deserve it.

Of course, the irony is Now, Now Every Children [NNEC] does conform to structure - just not in a written sense. Debut long-player Cars is as formulaic as a school-boy’s chemistry set, never once deviating from a blueprint of pensive introduction slowly escalating into a dramatic, skyscraping conclusion. Yet this lack of adventure is not as languid as it seems: NNEC’s cuts are Postal Service-like in hue, heavy on transient atmosphere and buried in layers of digitised effects.

Dalager’s lethargic intone is the centre piece of every tidy number; representing an axis around which percussion and strum chime together during blithe trinket ‘Everyone You Know’ and the cutesy ‘In the City’. Wisping and enchanting, her translucent purr is redolent of Victoria Bergsman as she pines “my head is an empty house when you’re not around” over ‘Sleep Through Summer’’s multi-layered crescendo.

But there’s more than just a smattering of divine vocal to be found in the album’s forecourt. ‘Headlights’ is a deep, introspective chasm built upon Dalager’s sighing couplets and a thick instrumental flurry, while ‘In My Chest’ crackles with guitars that fuzz like a wash of snow on analogue TV. The gorgeous ‘Friends With My Sister’ is the album zenith: a tearstained clang of reflection that finds Dalager’s prescriptive laments seduced into a maniacal haze of guitar and blinking synths.

Sadly, these delectable moments call shotgun on Cars’ front seat, leaving only a mire of whiny Stateside Emo tripe to linger at the rear-end. The woeful ‘Little Brother’ epitomises this vapid descent, with Dalager meekly crowing “so la la la la letting you in and making us sing a song for you” as an ambivalent congregation of key strikes stoop meagrely alongside her, as if aware of the track’s pulseless deficiencies.

It’s a meek finale that contradicts NNEC’s penchant for triumphant climaxes and suggests this is a band destined to linger in the quagmire of America’s college circuit. Considering their grammar, that may not be such a bad thing.

First published here at the Line of Best Fit

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