Untitled (2005, Dependent Music)(4.3/5)

I can’t believe I liked this record. The vocals sound a whole hell of a lot like Eddie Vedder crossed with Hayden (see the opening track and tell me that’s not the Canadian wunderkind in disguise). In fact, this would be exactly what Pearl Jam would sound like if they didn’t try so hard to sound ‘indie’ on their last few albums.

The most rewarding aspect of Untitled is the ease at which the album flows from start to finish. One immediately notices the impeccable arrangements found throughout this album (sometimes reminding me of Minus The Bear). You find interesting, almost seemingly out-of-place bits here and there like the backing choral vocals in ‘Insomniac’ (the choral arrangements also show up later near the end of ‘Migration’). The next track ‘Nerves Normal, Breathes Normal’ sprawls itself over 7+ minutes but somehow manages to not overstay its welcome. It features a few nifty time changes and stutter-steps that finally work up to a finale. (I mean, really, keep in mind the lead vocalist sounds like Eddie Vedder.) ‘Danse Macabre’ is definitely the most ambitious track on the album, laying claim to excellent percussion and tastefully placed start-stop dynamics. ‘A Long Flight’ slows things down a bit near the end with its gently-plucked guitar and hazy opening and ends with a mildly grandiose outro.

The only problem I found with this album is when the lead singer tones things down to a near-whisper, he treads dangerously close to Dave Matthews territory like in the opening of ‘Faithful Guide’ and the entire closing track. This is a small quibble as the music certainly doesn’t contain the ‘extra cheese on my pizza, please’ feel of the DMB.

Wintersleep is yet another fine offering from Canada who I expect to hear more of on the front pages of hip e-zines everywhere. I’ll drink (root beer) to that. Come to Japan, kids.

-Beat 2/27/05

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