Morning Kills The Dark (2005, Pop Up Records)(4.5/5)

According to the press sheet this album features the backing vocals of Kala Savage (yeah, sister to THOSE Savage boys) and the album starts off with an ode to Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley. But you know what? I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about all that marketing schmaltz (though Savage’s vocals are incredibly gorgeous and tasteful).

This is one excellent atmospheric moody-pop album. The layers of sound on Morning Kills The Dark provide a great deal of warmth and coziness. You know those albums. Where you can just sit back with headphones on and ponder your pathetic little existence on this green Earth. For me it’s usually Nick Drake, Wilco’s Being There, anything by Matt Pond PA, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks etc. Mind you, I am not comparing the sounds found here to those albums, just the overall effect experienced while listening.

So back to this ode to Jenny. As expected it is quite cute (much like Ms. Lewis). The song features a saloon-style piano backbeat, that synthy noodling heard all over Grandaddy’s Sophtware Slump and near the end people start hootin and hollerin’ in the background. Overall a barrel of fun. This leads into the most upbeat number on the album , ‘You’ve Got Darkness’. Hot damn, check out the pair of harmonies on this one! I may have found my new favorite Savage family member. Gorgeous. ‘The Other Side’ rips a page out of the Brian Wilson textbook with its airy background vocals and moody textures. ‘Kala Lynne’ is another beautiful tune featuring Savage’s vocals. This could definitely pass as a long-lost Ivy song as her vocals closely resemble Dominique Durand’s. The album ends on a heavy Oberstian note, with Mr. Flamm wielding his acoustic guitar and waxing all poetic about his home state, California, and all it’s many eccentricities. This certainly sounds derivative yet it is the perfect ending to the album.

There really isn’t a bum track on the album except for maybe the lone instrumental found near the end. The songs featuring Savage’s background vocals are definitely the highlights. A most excellent affair. This will likely find its way onto my year-end list.

-Beat 5/2/05

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