Giraffe Tongue Orchestra

Broken Lines

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The term "supergroup" is an odd one when it comes to collaborative projects. In the alternative scene, it’s a term that can be interpreted as not just the creative effort of players from established bands occupying similar genres, but over time, it's come to mean that such an effort must obviously be a combination of each of those members’ individual styles. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra has been in the works for a while now and ultimately results in something more than such a throwaway term. Made up of Alice in Chains' William DuVall, Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman, and Mastodon’s Brent Hinds, with Pete Griffin of Dethklok and Thomas Pridgen of the Mars Volta, the ensemble have now churned out their debut full-length and if anything, the album seems to abandon the hard-lined styles of each project belonging to those involved, and almost feels like it's approached things with the sensibility of "let’s jam and see what happens." Highlights are "No-One is Innocent," made up of frantic riffs blasted through some nice phaser effects. DuVall's vigorous vocals carry the verse through to a bombastic chorus, and the track is rounded off nicely with some pounding double-bass and solid crescendo-building. "Blood Moon" (one of the album’s singles) delivers hook-laden harmonies with its guitar work. There are more interesting moments on the album but it’s easy to see why this was one of the tracks chosen to promote, it with its slight pop/rock sensibilities and corkscrew basslines. "Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want" is one of Broken Lines' more unique moments, if not for its crazy middle-eight section, which involves an organ solo and brass section, than for its galloping basslines and sharply executed overdriven guitar chords. A more solemn moment is "All We Have Is Now," its lyrics illustrating alienation, loss, and fear of the future are aptly set against a backdrop of nicely arpeggiated chords and some light atmospheric noise. Broken Lines' only downfall is that it isn't as cohesively arresting as its individual highlights. Having said that, those highlights pretty much eclipse this. And a surefire advantage of the album is due to its being anchored in melody; nowhere more exemplified than in "Back to the Light," which displays a powerfully hooky chorus, complete with lovely use of reverb, a salient, funk-laden guitar riff, and powerhouse crooning courtesy of DuVall. The album doesn’t break boundaries, but it’s a solid record with some decent moments. What’s ultimately refreshing is that, being a record created by individuals from a very guitar-oriented and prominently "heavy" background, it doesn’t feel like one of those albums that’s thrown in a whole bunch of furious palm-muted riffs, pummeling drums, and insane solos to keep its audience satisfied; rather opting for the route of decent songwriting without abundant technicalities and just having fun with it.

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