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Or Give Me Death
Barsuk Records

What do you get when you mix the atmospheric feel of The Alan Parsons Project and Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles with lyrics of loss and lament? You get one of the best albums of the New Year. Or Give Me Death, the latest release from Seattle's Aqueduct is a triumph of piano driven music that is emotional without falling into the overdone, over-hyped abyss that emo has become.

The songs on Or Give Me Death are manic-depressive in an entirely good and strangely exciting way. The lyrics are unique in their wholehearted greatness. The band is of a quality rarely seen today, having the ability to move from the quirky "Keep It Together" to the dark "Wasted Energy" to coming out of left field with a horn section reminiscent of 1970's era Chicago on the track, " Just The Way I Are."

While so many bands of late take themselves seriously to the point of nauseam, Aqueduct are clearly enjoying themselves and this is exactly what makes their album so good. With lyrics like "this song is for lovers/ or anyone playing spy hunter" it is easy to be sucked into, and deceived by, the relaxed kitschiness of the band. "As You Wish" tells the story of a man that loves someone with all his heart, singing how he could not live without them but decides to kill them anyway. The darkness of the music contained in Or Give Me Death is shrouded by the feel good tone of lead singer and lone full-time member David Terry's vocal delivery; he would either fit perfectly on an album of kids' singalongs or smack in the middle of a concept album based on death and dismemberment.

Just as The Police built a legendary career hiding songs about stalking, hookers or suicide behind a bouncy reggae beat, Aqueduct plant their depravity in the shadows of happy sounding synthesizers, horns and a popping drum beat. Don't be fooled. If you listen closely to Or Give Me Death, it is exactly what the name implies - it is menacing… it is unsettling… it is damn near perfect.

-Danny R. Phillips

Track Listing:
1. Lying In The Bed I've Made
2. Living A Lie
3. Broken Records
4. Keep It Together
5. Just The Way I Are
6. Unavailable
7. Split The Difference
8. As You Wish
9. Zero The Controls
10. Wasted Energy
11. You'll Get Yours
12. With Friends Like These

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