If Hamilton Leithauser's painful rasp tries your patience,
then you may not warm up to The End Of The World any more
than The Walkmen. Its vocalist, Stefan Marolachakis,
also sounds as if he's suffering excessively for his art and all
that pain is going to, and through, his throat. His hurt makes
it easy to believe this is the end of the world.
Furthermore, unfortunately, Marolachakis is the band's central
focus. Song arrangements are hardly more complicated than that
of the average folk singer's repertoire - albeit with added bass
and drum parts. On "Sunrise At The Manse," The End Of
The World slips into Galaxie 500/Luna mode, with
a druggy, plodding country-ish dirge; the aural equivalent of
driving through Southern California's Inland Empire and far from
traveling the scenic route. "Fangs And Fog" drags on
and over the same chord strummed over and over; all you can do
is hope Marolachakis learns a new fret fingering (and quick!).
"Party's Over" at least revs up the tempo and adds a
jolt of welcome guitar noise. But this small drip of taste is
not nearly enough to quench a dry man's thirst.
My high school band teacher used to extol the virtues of Barry
Manilow. (I was in high school, remember. What did I know?)
He explained how the dynamics in The Man's music, soft-to-loud
and slow-to-fast, made him stand out as a special artist. He was
dead wrong about Manilow being an artist, or anything special
for that matter, but his comments about the necessity of dynamics
nevertheless remain valid. Dare I say it, but the hip The End
Of The World could learn a thing or two from The Mandy Man. Let's
arrange a meeting at the Copacabana or something, eh?
You cannot stand face-to-face with a brilliant man and still
appreciate what he is saying, if he has afternoon lunch cluttering
up his moustache. Similarly, The End Of The World's earnest, yet
aurally unappealing, sound presents a nearly insurmountable obstacle
to the brilliance that might be in there somewhere.
1. Crowded Rooms
2 White Sands.
3 Last Cast
4 Sunrise at the Manse
5 Fangs and Fog
6 Party's Over
7 Spare Me
8 Show Your Age
9 This Simple Mess
10. Oh, Nashville
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