The Comas

Conductor

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Voted one of the best 2004 albums you didn't hear from both Spin and Rolling Stone, the third release from this Chapel Hill, NC, combo revels in its gloomy indie pop roots. Fuzzed-out guitars mesh with soaring, edgy melodies on a song cycle exploring the collapsed relationship between Comas auteur Andy Herod and TV star Michelle Williams. But you'd probably only know that from reading the press kit, since Herod's lyrics are typically obtuse. Still, there is no mistaking the self-pity wallowing in songs like "Hologram," with lyrics such as "Every time I think of a zero it's me with my eyes X-ed out with a sharpie and frown." The disc kicks off with plenty of sludgy pop hooks roughed up by unfussy production, but gradually morphs into a more internally wracked affair. The sum of these songs equals more than their melancholy parts, and the album works on its own logic. That includes the bizarre three-and-half-minute single organ note that opens "Falling," the closing song. Bits of The Man Who Sold the World-era David Bowie float through this world, but Herod isn't mimicking anything as much as crafting his own style. The singer/songwriter's careening voice conveys the sadness, anger, and angst associated with any romantic breakup, as it shifts from a detached whisper in the pensive beginning of "Oh God" to a frustrated Alex Chilton moan in "Employment" as he sings "I'm just starin' at the ground through the hole in my shoe." There is some pure rocking here in the glam-happy "Invisible Drugs," although even with Herod's smart if obtuse words and sure melodic sense this isn't something you'd play at a lot of parties. The accompanying DVD presents a video vignette for each track, some of them featuring Williams. The short films -- a still from one serves as the album's cover art -- mix live action and animation in bizarre, often experimental sci-fi pieces that are imaginative if not entirely understandable. Regardless, it makes an interesting, if not essential, complement to the audio disc and shows Herod's imagination and initiative to push the creative envelope.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
blue highlight denotes track pick