Significantly more expansive that 2011's broken yet undeniably heartfelt Breakers, due in large part to the fact that it was birthed in a proper studio and not in singer/songwriter/pianist Christopher Barnes bedroom, In Roses, the second long-player from the Boston chamber pop trio Gem Club, blends the methodical, melancholic simplicity of the National and the slow ache of Tom Odell with the evocative orchestral Icelandic hymns of Sigur Rós. This is laptop pop writ large, and Barnes' choked, Antony Hegarty-meets-Chris Martin delivery pairs well with Magik Magik Orchestra string arranger Minna Choi's tasteful orchestral emissions, with highlights arriving via the epic "First Weeks" -- a lush, two-chord meditation on loss that feels like it was built out of rescued incidental music from a Cameron Crowe film -- the spectral "Ideas for Strings," and the ephemeral closer "Polly." As a collection of unabashedly melodramatic, dear-diary poetic, and tastefully lush happy/sad dream pop anthems, In Roses delivers the goods with the sort of restrained panache that’s sure to win over the NPR crowd, but for all of its icy beauty and elegant self-loathing, it's terribly inert: a great deal of the record feels like Harry Nilsson's “Without You” sans the explosive chorus. Relegated to the background, it casts a complex and appropriately cloudy audio patina, one that's tailor-made for mixed feelings and rainy Sunday mornings, but with nothing in the way of hooks to latch on to, the whole thing just drifts out of the window and back into the overcast sky from whence it came, leaving the listener neither richer nor poorer.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger