And Also the Trees

Angelfish

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Continuing to redefine themselves in the '90s while still mining the mix of dark music and emotive singing which has always been their metier, And Also the Trees here make the leap into an even more "modern" sound than before -- though keep in mind this means moving from the '20s to the '50s! With a mid-century pulp magazine cheesecake model on the cover, Angelfish caught many longtime listeners off guard, while the music helped further -- "Fighting in a Lighthouse," for instance, has a smoky, late-night R&B swing to it, some funky organ, and Justin Jones' clean rockabilly-esque twang instead of the legendary reverb wash, which is absent throughout the record. Yet as with The Klaxon, what seems like a totally different approach in fact ends up instead a perfectly logical extension of the Trees' aesthetic: the fact that they're willing to try such paths -- and even better, do quite well with them! -- is reason enough to cheer when you think of the bands who have remained in ruts all their careers. If anything, the jazzy feel of such songs as "Paradiso" and "Tremaine" have their roots in such music as Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis and Angelo Badalamenti's work for Twin Peaks rather than Sun Records, though with a more upbeat, energetic vibe, as the sprightly, loungey instrumental "The Next Flight to Rome" demonstrates. But Simon Jones still sings with his wonderfully dark croon and lyrics not far removed from many past songs in subject matter -- consider the dreamlike landscape of "Sea Change" -- and the impression in the end is of a band able to combine past and present effectively. Add to that a nicely ominous film noirish tune, "6th Floor Elevator Blues," delivered dryly by Steven Burrows, and the marvelous, snarling "The Lights of Phoenix." Angelfish is a brave, strong effort.

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