So Much For Romance

The Antivillains

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So Much For Romance Review

by Mark Deming

It's anyone's guess as to what a band from the post-industrial Midwest is supposed to sound like these days, but chances are whatever you were expecting from a new trio from Toledo, OH, it's not what the AntiVillains serve up on their debut album, So Much for Romance. Sarah Cohen, Benjamin Cohen, and Sam Woldenberg have created a set of lovely, ethereal music built around simple harmonies, bittersweet guitar melodies, and artfully executed arrangements that conjure up a world of broken hearts and glorious sadness, echoing through the bedrooms of lonesome bohemians late on a mid-winter's night. So Much for Romance is strikingly accomplished stuff for an independent debut, suggesting some missing link between the Sundays and This Mortal Coil (only with more engaging melodies), and the production and arrangements are remarkably intelligent and effective, bringing a powerful shape and color to the simple lines of these nine tunes, and the vocal harmonies (especially Sarah's frequent leads) bring a very human warmth to the music that contrasts nicely with the blue moods of the music. The AntiVillains may sound sad on So Much for Romance, but they're not thoroughly mopey; there's a jangly pop texture to "Don't Get Excited" which gives the disc a welcome kick, and the jazzy, bossa nova feel of the title track makes for a witty contrast with the lyrics bemoaning a failed relationship. The AntiVillains are not exactly reinventing the wheel with So Much for Romance, but they've absorbed their influences and shown both the talent and the desire to make something new and interesting from them, and the finished product is an album that's clever and surprisingly powerful, confirming once again a lot more of importance is happening in Ohio than you might imagine.

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