Dwell is an impressive album of other people's voices and other people's tunes.
Adam Webb 2008-04-24
Like a pony with one particular trick, from the moment Wires & Wool kicks into gear, you know The Envy Corps' second album will be dominated by the BIG MUSIC. In today's terms, its gigantic chiming guitar riff merges into a path well trodden by Radiohead, Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Arcade Fire. The cheerleader, ''Hey! Hey! Hey's'', are pure Funeral. Their predecessors would be U2, Simple Minds and a host of other '80s stadium stalwarts.
However, it is the Win Butler and Chris Martin comparisons that define the Iowa three-piece. Certainly, there is more than one song on Dwell that starts all stately and ballad-like before building to a bombastic uplifting hail of a climax. In fact, pretty much all its moments run like this. A possible variation on the 'loud-quiet-loud' formula, it suggests The Envy Corps are followers rather than leaders. A serious downside over the course of an album. As is the lack of big, killer tunes.
Like a disappointing gift, packaged beautifully, such details detract from the impressive sonic production. Impressions of a competent college rock act are not exactly helped by naming the second track about the life of Sylvia Plath, although to be fair, the song titles are actually pretty good, and a damn site less anodyne than Coldplay's. Rhinemaidens, 99,100 and You'd Look Good In Wings, Pt II all hint at an active and fertile imagination. It's a shame that the execution that falls short.
And when the bluster dies away, it really suits them. Before The Goldrush starts off lovely, with a great first line (''The gold rush is on, and I'm leaving you mum…'') and acoustics that foil perfectly Luke Pettipoole's wavering vocals. They can't quite resist gilding the lily by chucking on a few string sections at the end, but it's salient proof that less is quite often more. Even better is Rooftop, which is confident enough for a stripped-down, unplugged approach to its conclusion.
Such green shoots reveal at a band with real potential, and the facility to do something truly special. But, for now, Dwell is an impressive album of other people's voices and other people's tunes.