First, the necessary disclaimer: the European band heard on Ins Kino has no connection to the American group Vermont, which was a side project for singer/guitarist Davey Von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier of the Milwaukee-based The Promise Ring. The members of this Vermont have lived in London, England, and Dresden, Germany, and while both bands are part of alternative pop/rock (a term that can mean a wide variety of different things), the European Vermont favors more of a dream pop/shoegazer outlook along the lines of Lush, Shallow, and The Cardigans. That approach dominates Ins Kino, which was recorded in 2002 and is Euro-Vermont's first full-length album. This U.K. release is seldom aggressive; for the most part, the songs have a floating, airy, dreamy quality -- and lead vocalist Sabine Zeißig fits right in. Hardly a big-voiced belter, Zeißig will never be mistaken for Melissa Etheridge or Tina Turner; her vocals are fragile, waifish, and gently girlish, which works perfectly for oddly sublime offerings like "About the Man," "Drive" (not to be confused with The Cars' '80s hit), "Last," and the doo wop-ish "Poppiloten." Most of the tunes don't really rock, they float, as do Zeißig's lead vocals -- and when guitarist Colin Murphy sings lead (although Zeißig is the main vocalist), he is usually subtle and restrained. But there are exceptions to that rule; one of the CD's edgier, more rocking tracks is "Two Weeks From Everywhere," which finds Zeißigand Murphy getting into a more new wave-ish and power pop-minded groove. But overall, Vermont gives the impression that they would rather float than rock -- and that mindset serves them well on this promising debut.
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