Tuesday, February 28, 2012

synth sets the world spinning

Rags & Ribbons 
The Glass Masses 

Crystalline guitars and shimmering synth boost and bring focus to the smooth vocals on Even Matter, the opening track on Rags & Ribbons debut album.  There are forlorn melodies in the guitars and a sense of yearning to be found in those captivating vocals, all the while a mildly demented interplay of drums and synth sets the world spinning.  And this begins a captivating journey across the initial offering from this Portland trio.  Their alt-rock is amped up a bit more on Liar.  The guitars become meatier and the chorus is like layered angels.  Fragile U2-esque guitar lines are buried beneath what could be called a choir of vocals as The Marks You Make gets rolling.  The drum snaps away like a soldier's beat before the song surges into an upswing accented by piano.  Muted piano and lush vocals slide alongside a sorrowful guitar line in the core of Moving On.  My favorite track, Abacus Kids reminds me of the mega hit by Big Country, In A Big Country.  It has that epic, emotional and nostalgic quality to its main riff and those unmistakable vocals hooks that drag me across windswept landscapes.  The song works towards alternating rock explosions and sweet, melt-in-my-ears melodies.  The deep, shuddering guitars that open We Have Been Here Before remind me of U2, but there is some other influence playing havoc on my mind as well because I can't quite place it.  UGH.  Regardless, the track ebbs and flows in a slow rolling rhythm.  It's cold and rainy in the instruments, but the vocals continue to paint my speakers with quicksilver.  The Glass Masses is a comforting album despite the tinge of despair that lingers across the tracks.  I hear echoes of Drivin' N Cryin' and Queen and U2 sprinkled throughout this album.  The emotional depth of early 90s alternative rock is bled out in rivers by Rags & Ribbons.  

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