The album begins with the mournful “Pioneer Falls,” which has an Echo and the Bunnymen via The Doors sound. The song is kind of pretty, and it would be a lot prettier if I were a 17-year-old girl looking to escape my middle-class, small-town, relative hell. As it is, I think I’ll let the gray show in my rapidly thinning hair.
“No I in Threesome” makes a bid for the basis of the next James Toback film and picks up the pace a bit, with a pounding piano and drum beat. This is the scene when I come back to my empty dorm room, throw myself onto the bed, and let the eyeliner run down my cheek.
As “Scale” kicks in, I’m wishing this band really would begin sounding like Joy Division already. There’s a lot of stentorian self-analyses going on, but it’s more of the goth power ballad variety than the throbbing, grating soundtrack of Ian Curtis’ life. More power to these guys for staying alive, don’t get me wrong, but so far I’m bored.
Here’s an upbeat number, “Heinrich Maneuver”! It’s got all those angular guitars and syncopated beats, just right for adjusting that lock of hair to just the right angle across your forehead. I’m gonna call up my friends and see what’s doing! Ooh, there’s a dead stop right before the chorus comes back in. I haven’t heard such joyous gloom since Psychedelic Furs‘ “Love My Way”.
“Mammoth” opens with a vaguely threatening, slightly sexual four-on-the-floor beat and repeated chants of “spare me the suspense.” [Cut to the “bad boy” my innocent freshman character is about to meet up with.] If you don’t mind, I’m going to drop the narrative for a minute and simply enjoy the relative abandon of this song. Nice.
I’m fired up for a song called “All Fired Up”. To this point, this album’s lacked fire. Here’s a cool guitar intro with bared-teeth vocals about lions and devils! The band is kicking in with a funkier post-punk groove than has been used to this point. It’s all fired up, indeed. Second verse we get the variations on the pounding, stilted drum beat. [The Freshman is cutting loose with her friends on the dance floor at this point while Bad Boy watches from the catwalk.]
That last one was good! “Rest My Chemistry” is up now, and to tell the truth, the title worries me. Will a pharmaceutical ad accompany this song, or is this going to be a song recommending “drug holidays,” which doctors do not recommend, you know. Well, it’s a chirpy number with a chiming guitar riff and rhythm guitar that boldly answers the vocals on the verses. The Freshman is digging it, and I see a dad across the room escorting his teenage son and a friend to their first all-ages show, and dad’s nodding along, feeling pretty good about son’s burgeoning tastes in rock.
More slashing, phased guitars and pounding, syncopated drums as “Who Do You Think” gets underway. I wish the singer would come out of his cave for just one song. Is there a special kind of hearing damage that results from being subjected to 45 minutes of heavy digital reverb? I’m feeling the psychological toll of the band’s hectoring tone. The Freshman keeps bopping along as the Bad Boy approaches to make his move!
“Wrecking Ball” brings it down to allow our couple to have their first, intimate moments. It’s touching, watching the Bad Boy’s tough exterior peel back, however briefly. The Freshman’s strong family values are an asset at this point in our story, you can sense how they will guide this puppy love.
As the serene, shimmering “Lighthouse” plays, we cut to a tasteful, sexless montage of discovery and exploration. Alas, the kids are alright.