Famous Last Words' 2003 self-titled debut reveals that the trio of Jeff Zittrain (guitars/vocals/keyboards/mouth harp), Kate Burkart (bass/vocals), and Jace Bartulis (drums) simultaneously embrace if not adopt their jam band roots -- they are from the Bay Area after all -- while thankfully foregoing all the embarrassing musical clichés and dead ends that ironically define the subgenre. Even as the majority of the cuts clock in past the seven-minute mark, there are few, if any, meandering interludes. In fact the contrary is most often the case, as the primary compositional combo of Zittrain and Burkart weave a fulfilling sonic tapestry of unsheltered emotion and instrumental prowess. The opening and ambling "Lullaby" is far from a sleeper, perfectly demonstrating Zittrain's incisive lead fretwork, which at times recalls an inspired Neil Young. The vocal pairing yields an undeniable synchronicity, especially during the chorus of the driving rocker "Matter of Time," or by contrast the standout "Sloe Hank," lending itself well to the intimate acoustic environs. "Faith in the Dark" is a trippy and slightly noir excursion, examining the extent of the band's improvisational proficiency and sporting some of the effort's most intuitive interaction. Particularly tasty is Zittrain's understated and ethereal keyboard lines as they fuse together with Burkart and Bartulis' synchronic rhythm section. "It's All Over, Again" is a more pastoral ballad that develops into a languid and almost hypnotic exchange. It is also notable for the extended personnel of David Duenas (bass), Marika Hughes (cello), and Rich Snider (drums).
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer