Collisions (2005, Beggars Banquet)

The tag that has generally been thrown at Calla is ‘sadcore’ or ‘slowcore’, mainly because of the extreme amount of gloom and darkness that makes Calla’s music so appealing. Though I understand the idea that Calla does play a somewhat slowed down, sad brand of indie rock, I just can’t seem to make the connection. After listening to other well known bands that play to the ‘sadcore/slowcore’ drum (such as Low or Codeine), I certainly find it hard to lump Calla in such company. They sound like a band that grew up on the Birthday Party, fighting sadness with Nick Cave and an array of other post-punk influences (the darker of those of course).

Through 3 albums, Calla has found a way to incorporate saddened anguish with elements of noise and electro. For their latest release, the band retains the gloom and eerily-paced compositions that made albums such as 2001’s Scavengers so celebrated, but cuts down the length of their songs, relying more on hooks this time around. Collisions creeps from beginning to end. Moving from drearily-paced percussion to blissful noise – the albums 11 songs seem to mesh seamlessly. It appears the band has found a formula, one in which helps make their sadness memorable.

The album starts with it’s most up tempo track, ‘It Dawned On me’, a guitar-driven rock song. As the album progresses, the band offers more hooks, while slowing things down. The vocals serve as almost a whisper throughout the album, only grazing the songs. The pop highlight of the album has to be ‘Play Dead’, a song laced with the noise and sadness of the others, but also with an infectious hook. Each song seems to play as strong as the one before it.

The album’s epic closer ‘Overshadowed’ will probably stand out to those more accustomed to the extended moodiness of Calla’s previous albums – it slowly builds as the drummer repeatedly beats until the guitars join in, creating a sound nothing short of bliss. This Brooklyn trio has created another masterpiece of moody, atmosphere-based (thanks Brian) noise. It’s debatable whether or not this is Calla’s strongest album, but if nay, it’s pretty damn close.

-Kenny H. 9/20/05

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