The Convenience Of Indecision
By: Eric Greenwood
There"s no real shame in being an average band. The members of Sorry About Dresden must just be interested in other things besides becoming a good band, and that"s cool. Bands aren"t for everyone. I just hope they pick out their new careers quickly, so that I don"t have to listen to an album like The Convenience Of Indecision again any time soon. Actually, "average" might be on the charitable side in SAD"s case. (SAD, by the way. Ha ha. Hey, emo). Lots of influences permeate this Chapel Hill-by-way-of-Nebraska quartet"s debut full-length. These influences do not, however, provide any insight into what makes this band tick, nor do they suggest much hope for the future. Average-ness breeds laziness and laziness in the competitive indie rock underground is a guaranteed death-knell.
Vocalist Matt Oberst is Conor Oberst"s brother. I have to assume "big brother" because it"s hard to imagine being the little brother of that shivering freak in Bright Eyes. Anyway, Matt"s voice isn"t nearly as annoying or contrived as Conor"s. That"s the good news. The bad news is that Matt"s voice is blah. Indiscriminate, could be twenty different people, blah. The music suffers the same dilemma. Rooted in a predictably lo-fi aesthetic, Sorry About Dresden straddles the line of emo, punk, and jangly indie rock. None of it pegs the interest meter. You"ve heard it all before. Labelmates Cursive deserve some hearty thanks, for sure. If you"re going to mimic a band- try one that"s not already on your label.
The other thing about being average is that you"re equal parts bad and good. So, a few compliments then: "A Losing Season" reveals a fairly explosive dynamic, climbing from acoustic arpeggios to piercing electric crescendos. Matt"s voice isn"t so bad when he uses multiple tracks. But who"s isn"t, right? He"s got that affectation, where any time he reaches for a high note his voice cracks into a half scream. Like Elvis Costello without the pugnaciousness. "On Contradiction" is a good song with fluid changes and melodic vocals. "One Version Of Events" sounds like 1970"s AOR rock. This comes out of nowhere but rocks all the same, despite the horrible faux-British accent.
By "A Brilliant Ally" things start to fall apart. Matt chokes back the tears as he delivers his emo ammo: "are you ever going to talk to me?" Cursive"s Tim Kasher probably thinks this is a song by his other band, The Good Life. The ballad "It"s Morning In America" is wholly unnecessary. Number one- it"s a ballad. Number two- if you"re going to crank out a slow burner, at least make it interesting. The Chapel Hill influence rubs off on "Hosanna In The Highest", which sounds like the mellow direction that Superchunk has taken recently. The inconsistencies and shortcomings bog down this debut, and in a genre that"s cluttered with countless bands vying for the same audience, you can"t afford to miss.