Envy on the Coast

Lucy Gray

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Going into the recording of Lucy Gray, Envy on the Coast must have had it in mind to make sure no one could write them off as merely another simplistic emo group spawned from the sprawl that is Long Island. For them, that apparently meant not relying on huge choruses and cheeky lyrics (or even hooks, really) to fill space, as evidenced by the crackling piano- and guitar-driven bursts that fill Lucy Gray. And though the record is not as dramatic and technical as they might want one to believe, there is more noticeable ambition packed into these 12 rock songs than most of their peers attempt on album number one. Solid tracks like "Sugar Skulls," "Mirrors" and "The Gift of Paralysis" mesh dynamic vocals and dexterous guitars with subtly shifting rhythms that sometimes recall a band like Gatsbys American Dream. Minor dramatic touches -- as in the admittedly weird placement of choral singing in the brief "(X) Amount of Truth" -- further prove that these guys are purposely trying to craft more than the standard fare. It all adds up to more than enough to excite fans of their 2006 EP, not to mention deservingly win them some more. But a hard to ignore detail about Lucy Gray is that it needs to be tightened up. At almost fifty minutes in length, there's just too much extra fat on many of these tracks, which trimming away could do wonders in helping streamline the band's musical vision and strengthen songs into being more memorable. Plus instead of the piano ballad "Starving Your Friends" being a nice second-half break from the rest of the rather aggressively paced tracks, it only leads into another ballad from whose plodding grasp the album never fully recovers, causing it to simply fade out in a bland haze of guitars and static. Envy on the Coast is not quite where it wants to be (wherever that is, the guys probably haven't even decided yet), but this album -- despite its imperfections -- is still very much a worthy start.

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