Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Willamette Week review of CLIMBER "THE MYSTIC"

Climber The Mystic
(Sparklet Records)

[BIG ROCK] Three albums and eight years into its career, Portland quartet Climber has perfected its spacey organ pop, and it’s only sensible that its fourth album, The Mystic, follows suit while showing musical maturity.

The Mystic is something rare in the era of disposable downloads: an album with definite A and B sides flowing together in tone and concept. It starts with the steady groove of “The Simian Speaks” before hitting driving orchestral swells on “The Risk of the Middle Way” and jackknifing into “I Have Seen Everything,” a piece of playful bliss prodded along with dot-matrix pop perfection.

Then Climber grows up, and in its second half The Mystic simply loses spark and control of its tone. “We Are the New Man” explodes from hard-rock riffs to melodic space-outs, but it soon morphs into a “Paranoid Android” clone as vocalist Michael Nelson transitions his unique cadence to fit a Thom Yorke mold. Were it a fleeting change, it wouldn’t be distracting, but The Mystic’s B side sounds suspiciously like a Radiohead B-side collection mixed by a sedate Muse. Even the introduction of a kids’ choir seems a bit forced, as though the band is aspiring to put out its own synthy Dark Side of the Moon.

Still, The Mystic is beautifully crafted, and the group melds the playful elements of the album’s first half and the epic drive of the latter half perfectly on the trip-pop of “Integration!” But Climber has honed such a solid, original sound over the years that it’s a downer when the band sounds like anyone else. AP KRYZA.

SEE IT: Threads, Portland Cello Project, Loch Lomond, Laura Gibson, LKN, Tahoe Jackson and many more play a release show for From the Land of the Ice and Snow on Saturday, Oct. 9. 9 pm. $10. 21+. Climber plays Someday Lounge on Saturday, Oct. 9, with the Ro Sham Bo’s and Viper Creek Club. 9 pm. $10. 21+.

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