Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is also the most dangerous when unregulated, especially in reference to the creation process for profit. I doubt very much Jobs was flattered when people tried to "imitate" the iPod, but they did, in droves, because money is most people's endgame. In the post Owl City world, critical minds are even more sharply in tune to the sins of kids imitating the Postal Service and their quaint, emotive electro-pop. Owl City made some poor choices, including ripping off album artwork from real art, and copying the sound so efficiently, it was nearly indistinguishable from Gibbard himself.
Letting Up Despite Great Faults is unfocused electro-pop with a touch of sentimentality, so it is definitely treading in the territory of derivative work. But the fuzz that coats the record is a little sloppier than Gibbard's tunes, a little more shoegaze and less crystal-clear synthesizer. Washed out vocals urge the listener to stand closer and think harder when absorbing the beats; which actually seem like half bedroom-laptop concoctions, and half LA style scuzz. M83 definitely played a part here as well. But one of the things I like about this band is that the various influences coalesce more than they step on each others toes, and instead of sounding like a rip-off, throughout the record, they develop a style of their own.
The interesting bits come with the denouement; a highly stylized series of digital compositions that sound like the lovechild of a drugged up Thom Yorke and Imogen Heap or something like that... dreamy bells and repetitive crunchy drums, circular lyrics in melodic limbo, a wet dream worthy of the Garden State
soundtrack (a few years too late, LUDGF). Although its a little lo-fi for commercials, and a little manic depressive for television shows, the album is an interesting listen. Isn't that a novel idea? Music for us to simply enjoy, instead of as an enticement for something else.
What is also nice about the self-titled is the sense that LGDGF moves somewhere, and winds up more sing-songy than electro-poppy (defeating the Postal Service comparison entirely). By the time "Sun Drips" and "Release" hit, the album takes a turn towards Pains Of Being Pure At Heart levels of fuzziness, with real drums, guitar riffs, etc. With the band stripped down, we can reflect on the progression; an album of relationship chatter and cute-ish appeals, both head-bop worthy and sonically pleasant, no longer questionably similar to any one band.
Its easily digestible, sure. But in todays world of having the avant garde crammed down your throat, isn't it nice to have something easy to enjoy?-joe puglisi
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MP3: Letting Up Despite Great Faults - "In Steps" (Letting Up Despite Great Faults )
Letting Up Despite Great Faults on Myspace