Life and Times might seem a wordy band. Not only did the Kansas City indie-rock
trio name its new album Tragic Boogie — a description sure to tempt reviewers — but it also provided a subtitle:
“12 Songs About the Sun and Love and Death.” What these midtempo
stompers are really about, though, is sound. Fat thunder-clouds of it, charged
with reverberation and moist with overtones.
album’s second half is less stormy, allowing guitarist Allen Epley’s vocals
more prominence. “Waterboard myself to sleep” is one line that pokes
out from “The Lucid Dream,” whose drowsy vibe is typical of the later
tracks. But the highlights are such earlier songs as “Fall of the Angry
Clowns” (yup, wordy) and “Dull Knives.” They’re characterized by
impressive depth of field, dizzying changes in sonic emphasis and a bracing
disregard for hierarchal arrangements. Instruments switch roles, rhythm takes
the lead, everything bleeds into everything else and the downshifts are just as
thrilling as the crescendos.
course, this has been done before — is it time for the My Bloody Valentine
reference yet? — and the album trails off disappointingly in its second half.
The squall ends too soon, but Tragic
Boogie is invigorating while it rages.
Standout Tracks: “Fall of the Angry Clowns,” “Dull Knives” MARK JENKINS