Central Falls

Love and Easy Living

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Love and Easy Living is the sound of Central Falls at their most tuneful, languid, and elegiac. Truckstop as a label is well-known for its melancholy records, but seldom have they been as sweet and even bright as this one. Adam and Ben Vida have dumped the pedal steel; added organ, electric piano, and electric bass to the mix; and even added a horn section to three cuts to create a summery dreamscape of gorgeously mopey love songs. Craft and textural exploration meet in a seamless whole on tracks such as "The Fights Are Staged," with its easy, shuffling swing and melodic, distorted guitars in the bridge. The jazzier elements -- such as the slippery quote from George Gershwin's "Summertime" on the opener, "Springtime," and the Jim Hall-meets-Neil Young guitaristry on "Don't Concern Yourself" -- are truly innovative. Songwriting as displayed by Central Falls is an art composed of dedication to craft and the willingness to let form be informed by the margins of sound itself. Adam Vida's words are from the heart of the heart of nowhere, which is perhaps where marked territory of the heart actually is demarcated. These are slinky lines, more like postcards than letters, more observation than story, but the emotional effect is the same, despite the lack of edges; a reference check would be "Weekenders" (with beautiful Jeb Bishop and Ernst Karel on trombone and flugelhorn), with its lyric: "You weekenders can f*ck off/I am here forever." The cascading guitars, which bring angles into the center of the mix, are striking in contrast with the rest of the album, but they are momentary; soon everything floats back into the misty whorl of sonic cloud and atmosphere. If Love and Easy Living has any shortcomings, they are in its samey-sounding pace, but this may have more to do with Adam Vida's singing than anything else. His voice is quite lovely, but he phrases everything the same; but it also serves another purpose in that all the songs drift into and out of another, offering the listener an extended, dreamy journey into the ether of love's murkiness and necessity. Forget the sophomore slump; Love and Easy Living is better than the band's debut, Latitude.

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