Avenue of the Flags is atmospheric and sparse, moody and somber, but without ever sacrificing its low-watt guitar spark and expressive, romantic heart. Unlike many sad and slowcore bands, Buellton never reduces its music to a mere hum on its debut offering, nor does it slowly boil the music down to the least common, bare-boned denominator. Instead, the band allows its music to unwind and open up in its own time, to generate its own muted but decidedly electric momentum. The results are entirely lovely. Songs drift along at half speed, but there is so much texture and tension that they never threaten to fold in on themselves or turn narcoleptic. Even when the music is at its most measured ("What Do You Suppose," the chilly but scintillating folktronica of "People Die") or when it stretches out ("Sellblocks," "Grammys '97"), the band does not meander or dawdle along. The album is undoubtedly meditative and melancholy, sometimes in an almost fragile, sparkling way ("Angel Feet"). But melody ultimately proves just as important as mood, and the music is not all brooding and blue-hued. Like My Bloody Valentine, Buellton maintains a certain muscularity without sacrificing the quiet, subdued nature at its center. "Dark," one of the album's finest songs, is positively singsongy, with some of the loopiness of Flaming Lips, while at other times the band conveys a surprising sense of humor, or a gutsy kick in the rhythm section (the Doves-like pocket groove of "Keepin' It Real") that counteracts otherwise downturned sentiments. Ethereal without being lost in its own cosmos, resplendent but with enough grit to feel its feet on the ground, Avenue of the Flags never threatens to drift off in its own self-involved flight, making it all the more enveloping.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart