Other Victorians

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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus

Evening's Other Victorians (Lookout) is a moody pastiche of lyrical non sequiturs, throbbing late-period Radiohead bass, and blended post-punk overtures with much of the grease and all of the gristle removed. As with most of the album, "Placing You Center" refuses to be hooky in the traditional sense. However, its slick piano-and-keyboard backing and screwed-down electric guitar breaks do seem to set up Matt Rist's vaguely Corgan-ish vocal come-on. Problem is, the song's ultimately an empty statement. Like a visually slick but deliberately confusing independent film, it ends abruptly after a typical Rist throwaway. "Not impressed with the stress," he says, and the thing's Baroque pulse stops beating before you've read the looks on the characters' faces. "Breastmilk Saves Sixteen at Sea" is more fully realized, its verses' instrumental piecework (fuzzy/sticky guitars, echoing keys, more of that ever-present bass throb) unifying for the lurching, arch choruses. The work of guitarists Patrik Sklenar and Lee Burik is especially strong; throughout the album, it's their alternation of syrupy and scabrous tones that gives Other Victorians its tense quality. Unfortunately, creating tension is better suited for soundtracks, especially when it's the only vibe an album really gives off (besides being snooty). Victorians is plagued by the notion that Evening is establishing some great ideas, only to meticulously buff and pick at them until all that's left are lush, layered, and natty introductions to songs that will never quite come to fruition. The guitars come through again to save "I Want Everything," and the chilly instrumental "Wither in Bloom" is a dandy that wandered in from an indie electronica album. "View Finder" works too, if only because its refining of post-punk's angularities makes for such rarefied listening -- it's like cleaning up Clinic and French Kicks with ascots and fine silk shirts. In the end, Evening's listless twirl does have appeal, but it's hard not to miss some of that pared-off gristle.

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