Gone before most of us ever knew them, The House Carpenters's (Bill Foreman, Peter Giuliano, Will Stephens, and Dan Cesena) only full-length album shows a band that, should they have survived, would have been a likely candidate for an obsessed cult following. With personality pouring out of every accordion squeak in Cajun-tinged tunes like the jaunty "Full Moon Out Tonight" and "Nogales, Ariz.," there is an amazing balance of uninhibited fun and poignant narrative. Of the latter, the rolling drums, guitar, and mandolin of "As the Night Goes By" and the penny whistle of "Across the Windy Distance" are vehicles for incredibly literate verse and share a vaguely Celtic feel. Showing a broad eclecticism, the soulful Booker T. & the M.G.'s-influenced instrumental "Kidd Jordan's Second Line" and the "Secret Agent Man"-type rock of "Never" are pure bliss, with the latter's roaring drums and wild guitar solos likely to excite any fan of garage rock. In the end, it's the rare chemistry exhibited here, equal parts Band and Modern Lovers, that achieves such an exquisite synergy. Everyone is playing their role, and they sound like they're having a great time doing so, only eclipsed by the joy of actually listening to them.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Fink