the silent league but you've always been the caretaker
  • FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 2010

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Caretaker, an album drenched in fantastical, sweeping, orchestral pop, and it dips as much as it soars. At their best on their third record, The Silent League takes subtle cues from early Flaming Lips, geeking out with auto-tuned glitz, and vocal sparks. For those who are wondering right off the bat, their inclination for leaning on an orchestra hasn't waned a bit. However, their balladry reaches higher heights, and the balance seems a bit better than previous efforts. But those looking for a changed band better back off, The Silent League is comfortable with their style of bombastic pop, and they've grown into their breeches in a way that isn't changing anytime soon.

Don't expect it to be an all alt-country affair. Although Caretaker is easy listening pop rock, horns and strings make frequent appearances; faux Soft Bulletine coloring abounds. The album starts with a procession, almost fooling the listener into thinking they are listening to some 1995 MIDI track, or the opening credits to Final Fantasy VIII (although some would admittedly be into that). But in "WHEN STARS ATTACK!!" (it even sounds like an RPG) the focus on piano in lieu of other instruments becomes evident, and a Shearwater like intensity colors the orchestration. The evolution dives into "Yours Truly, 2095," an auto-tuned romp in quick footed, piano heavy bliss. A high point, as far as I'm concerned.

Then the mellow sets in... constructions turn to symphonic play in lieu of gripping pop. Things get VERY Soft Bulletin-esque, so much so that the trumpets begin to feel imagined, like a ghost choir in the background of the ballad. A series of slow explorations in piano, "There's A Caretaker...", "Here's A Star," we're being taken on a journey rather than actively pursuing one ourselves. The aesthetic is like trying to realize the subtle difference between perpetually existing underwater and floating in the vacuum of space... we can kind of imagine both as peaceful and pristine.

We wake up again at "Rules of Disengagement," when the guitars and drums take back the podium, riling our spirits, like something is starting. But its back to the waltz immediately after, and when the triumphant synths on "Pilot" hit, the whole thing begins to feel like an incubation-filled journey from Earth to somewhere just a bit more fantastic. I'd argue "Yours Truly" and "Resignation Studies" are the only stand alone songs, but like their obvious influences The Lips, rarely does an album make sense when cut up piecemeal. Caretakers is meant as a singular experience, and for all of its bombastic rollar coaster-ing, it succeeds. -joe puglisi

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MP3: The Silent League - "Yours Truly, 2095" (But You've Always Been The Caretaker)
The Silent League on Myspace

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