frog eyes paul's tomb: a triumph
    • FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2010

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    Synth lovers and psychedelic rock aficionados alike rejoice. Frog Eyes is back. Led by songwriter/howler/fellow Canadian Carey Mercer, the band is following up 2007's Tears Of The Valedictorian with Paul's Tomb: A Triumph (Dead Oceans). Even without multitasking renaissance man Spencer Krug, the band delivers the sound listeners have grown to love: a howling mad man in an echo heavy rock and roll cabaret. Add some crashing drums, distorted synths, and trippy guitar flourishes, and you get Paul's Tomb: A Triumph.

    The opener, "A Flower In a Glove", is an overwhelming nine minutes of howling and groaning over a simple rhythm. Drummer Melanie Campbell bangs out a persistent beat that underlies the hollowed out guitar riffs. Mercer is lyrically glorious in the accusations he makes ("That's you in a casket"). At the halfway mark, the understated rhythms build and Mercer becomes an even more eager howler, if possible. The next track, "The Sensitive Girls", picks the speed up a bit, and does it with distant guitars and tricky drumming.

    "Rebel Horns" sounds like a tripped out tribute to 60's surf rock with its frenetic guitars and willowy bass. Mercer stretches the limits of his voice, reaching higher and dropping lower while frantically searching for the right dynamic. "Lear, In the Park" is a vocal-free mesh of strumming guitars echoing one another. The accompanying "Lear In Love", with its unstable tempo, has Mercer repeatedly assuring us that "she's alright" and Campbell echoing that sentiment with her tranquil drumming. The band reaches new heights of drama on the track "Paul's Tomb". Everything is overly extravagant: the guitars insanely dramatic, the drums clashing, and the keys clamoring. The full eight minutes of the track is hardly enough to contain all the emotion bursting from Mercer's voice.

    All in all, Paul's Tomb: A Triumph is, well, a triumph. It is a spectacle in itself and Frog Eyes not only proves that they can crank out their signature tunes once again, but also that they have staying power. And that's a good thing because Paul's Tomb leaves us wanting more. - hanna kasper

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