Airport 5

Life Starts Here

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Perhaps sensing that the first Airport 5 album wasn't up to snuff, the esteemed duo (Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout, former bandmates in Guided by Voices) released a second full-length less than six months after Tower in the Fountain of Sparks. Recorded in the same separate studios hundreds of miles apart, Life Starts Here manages to sport an improvement sonically, as well as benefit from an added intensity (check out the hair-raising ascension of "Intro" and the Orwellian soundtrack "The Dawntrust Guarantee") and scrutiny ("How Brown?" mocks the pretentious nature of indie rock, all the way down to the ironically catchy chorus, while "We're in the Business" depicts cold-hearted undertakers). Pollard's technique of layering multiple vocal tracks over Sprout's menacing, yet playful "Out in the World" and their majestic epic "Wrong Drama Addiction (...And Life Stars Here...)" contributes to the upgrade and proves the man has hooks to burn. There are also nods to their shared past on "Yellow Wife No. 5," which features Sprout's Peter Buck-inspired guitar work (Guided by Voices began as R.E.M. clones), and "Impressions of a Leg," which recalls pre-Propeller Guided by Voices. Though there isn't a song as hooky as either of the singles culled from Tower in the Fountain of Sparks, Life Starts Here is a more consistent and agreeably bold affair that will please the faithful and fans of melody-enriched indie pop.

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