Static Patterns and Souvenirs

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This album is sparse, reflective, and terribly pretty -- and that's after just one or two minutes. The opening "Understanding Heavy Metal, Pts. 1-2" features singer Mark Rolfe taking a delicate melody and adding airy vocals that hover over the track perfectly. Sharon Cohen adds harmonies and you have a gorgeous track that seems to glide and soar at the same time. Think of Wilco meets the Delgados while inspired by David Bowie's Heroes and you might get a good idea of what is at play here. Horns enter the track but are far from a sticking point, giving it more body. The second half has some electronic blips and bleeps, but they also aren't a distraction. "Homerun" is a dirge with a duet from the two singers, making bands like Cowboy Junkies seem uptempo by comparison. Cohen's high notes bring to mind Sigur Rós, but she doesn't go over the top. The first real gem comes in the form of "The Last Mosquito Fight of Summer," as Lorna craft the song around their assets -- lovely vocal performances and simple arrangements with melodies that are heavenly -- as it ventures into the Cure circa Bloodflowers territory. "Remarkable Things" sounds as if the bandmembers have been listening to mountain music, but they perform the song at a snail's pace. The pedal steel is excellent thanks to Marc Ransley's deft abilities. "Swans" might be too rich, lush, or textured for some, but the lullaby harmonies and melancholic tone are what make it work so well. The same can be inferred from "Will You Still Love Me Yesterday?," a play on the Shirelles title. This haunting style continues during the barren and claustrophobic "Be Forever," which brings to mind Marianne Faithfull, Luna, or PJ Harvey circa Dance Hall at Louse Point. One song that comes across as run of the mill has to be "Snow Song." Lorna wrap the record up as smoothly and gracefully as it opened with "Illuminations," a track that sounds like a cross between Knife in the Water and Thee Heavenly Music Association. This record is pretty almost to a fault.

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