Miracle Fortress

Five Roses

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A couple things come to mind upon hearing the first few tracks of Five Roses. The first is that it sounds a lot like Yo La Tengo; there's a lot of ringing guitar work and throbbing bass going on, especially on tracks like "Whirrs" and "Hold Your Secrets to Your Heart." The second is that sounds a whole lot like the Beach Boys; it's bouncy and musically ambitious, full of soaring vocal harmonies and echoing snares. Now, this isn't to say that Graham Van Pelt (the man behind Miracle Fortress) is an outright copycat, or that Five Roses suffers under the weight of its influences. On the contrary, the album wears them beautifully; not only that, but it makes for one of 2007's more memorable and original indie pop debuts. Van Pelt is a one-man-band in the spirit of Brian Wilson, and his strength lies in his restraint. Unlike some indie multi-instrumentalists (Sufjan Stevens comes to mind) he doesn't shock and awe the listener with sheer orchestral might; this album soars, but it does so gently. The sonic palette consists of luminous synths, heartbeat-steady basslines (think Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One), Van Pelt's angelic vocals, and swath upon swath of reverb. The lyrics are heartbreakingly simple and they're almost invariably about love, but Five Roses is by no means a saccharine album. Maybe it's because Van Pelt is a genuine guy, or maybe it's just because he's a good songwriter; whatever the case may be, it isn't everyday one comes across an honest, and honestly surprising, set of love songs such as this.

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