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
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
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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