Hospital Ships

Lonely Twin

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When "Love or Death" kicks off Lonely Twin with a combination of piano, high vocals, and the general air of just-post-last-Beatles stateliness -- perhaps with a flicker of where the Move and ELO would eventually take that impulse -- the feeling is that Hospital Ships, centered around singer/songwriter Jordan Geiger, are at the logical end point of intersecting curves of nostalgic re-creation. On the one hand there's enough "proper" tunefulness to satisfy those who loved XTC and Jellyfish -- and perhaps most especially the Flaming Lips from The Soft Bulletin forward -- while on the other, there are enough squawks, fuzz, and zoning to sound like it's emerged a bit from the 21st century cassette underbrush. It generally leans toward the former, though, and with that as a start, Lonely Twin takes a sweetly woozy way through its length, at once enjoyable enough while still feeling like a recapitulation more than a way forward. Still, even with that caveat, it's pleasant enough listening, with the scragglier numbers like "Little Dead Leaf," distortion, and crumbling drum hits set against delicate keyboard tones and singing, working best as a mixing of relative extremes. The drumless, string-touched ballad "Bird in Furs" is the first of several similar pieces throughout the album like "Phantom Limb." Meanwhile, "Carry On" -- with its steady, early drum machine-styled punch and understated end-of-the-night singalong turning into a lighter-waving grind guitar, without changing its overall pace and feeling -- comes across as Geiger's high point on the album, a balancing of performance, arrangement, and tension that works in a lovely fashion.

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