For their second album, the Great Lakes Myth Society have built upon the strength of 2005's excellent self-titled debut and have upped the ante with a greater command of the art of making music in the studio. While Great Lakes Myth Society was a fine document of a great, imaginative band in full flight, Compass Rose Bouquet reveals the group has become even more ambitious in how they present their music on plastic; the arrangements are more elaborate and the production boasts greater depth and detail than in GLMS' previous trips to the studio, and while this record never comes off as slick for its own sake, the reach and vision of this album reveals that the Great Lakes Myth Society have moved past simply recording their music and eased into making albums that expand upon the possibilities of their music. And the dozen songs GLMS present on Compass Rose Bouquet are more than worthy of the confidence the group displays here; the melodies fuse folk rock, sunshine pop, indie rock, and art rock with singular imagination and steely beauty, while the potent physicality of the performances counters anything that might smack of pretension. The playing is uniformly strong, no small statement given the broad range of instrumentation on display here, and there's wit, rue, and hard-won wisdom in these songs of lives lived in the Midwest, from the meditation of college town life in "Heydays" and the heady, irresponsible nights of "Debutante" to the epochal drinking saga of "Queen of the Barley Fool" and the grand curtain call of "The Gales of 1838." What's most impressive about the Great Lakes Myth Society isn't just the strength of their music, as fine as it is, but that they've blazed a singular creative trail and have followed it with such surety; this is a great American band that just keeps getting better, and Compass Rose Bouquet is a work of rare beauty and rousing force.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming