Librarians – Present Passed
Postfact Records (3/9/10)
Indie rock / Pop / Psychedelic
Like some benevolent pop overlord, Animal Collective dominated 2009 with a synth-drenched fist of genius, so it’s unsurprising that their sound has begun to seep into the diets and DNA of those who you might consider downwind of them in the musical food chain.
Merriweather Post Pavilion is Librarians’ biggest problem with their latest release, Present Passed. The considerable influence and sway that hangs over every moment clouds whatever the band are trying to create here and you’re just left thinking you’re listening to a collection of Animal Collective demos and cuts with the occasional brief foray into a mundane indie-rock vein.
The vocal and synth sounds feel like a running sprint to catch up to the flatbed psychedelic pop bandwagon of 2009 as it speeds by and, just when you think the band may have stumbled upon pastures new, they revert to their Merriweather aping in an attempt to forge a build-up, chorus or climax.
It’s as if you’re on the hijacked plane ride of someone else’s sound, with the impostor pilots choosing to fly straight back to where you started from. A mid-air mutiny should be dramatic, intense and perhaps a little exciting; not formulaic, derivative and predictable.
Whilst searching for some holy slipstream catapult to success, Librarians have forgotten to pack any of their own twists, turns or new ideas into their travel bags. Maybe they dropped them to the wayside to try and catch that speeding bandwagon? Either way, after landing, you’ll see them down at the arrivals baggage carousel, where everyone comes to claim their luggage, and they’ll be traveling light with their empty, hollow suitcases.
You may think the cases look pretty with their nice designs and fashionable colors, but you’ll be left sorely disappointed when you end up at your destination airport and find the contents bare.
There are a few good points: the arrangements of the songs that allow the Animal Collective sound model to be executed so successfully are nice and balanced, the aforementioned cloned synth and vocal parts are well realised and the album as a whole is pleasant enough if devoid of originality and ideas. Stand out tracks are “Hard to Unwind”, “Island Jam” and “Kid Stuff”, although all three suffer from the same faults as the rest of the album.
If you do pick this one up, don’t expect anything other than the hollowed out shell of another band. This album is, after all, an empty suitcase.