This Is Where Our Hearts Collide

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When you're a bunch of smart, deep-thinking guys trying to work in pop music, you have to walk kind of a thin line: it's the line between being intriguingly sensitive and being off-puttingly wimpy or solipsistic. Amandine is a Swedish band heavily influenced by American folk music and alt-country, and they walk that line on their pretty but occasionally frustrating debut album. That is to say, they walk it like someone submitting to a roadside intoxication test -- keeping a generally straight trajectory but sometimes wobbling off course before correcting themselves. Instrumentally, the band's sound is slow and soporific -- not exactly lazy, but not entirely committed either. Imagine a less-energized version of the Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Session and you'll get the idea. Unfortunately, singer Olof Gidlöf doesn't have anything approaching Margo Timmins' charisma; where she sounds quietly intense, Gidlöf sounds like he's trying valiantly to stay awake. It's an approach that works nicely on "Halo" (especially when the strings come in) and maybe a bit less well on the more aimless "Fathers & Sons." When the band starts more or less rocking out on the album's final track, the effect is so startling that it's really kind of thrilling. Kind of. Recommended to sensitive guys everywhere and to the girls who love them.

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