Marine Dreams – [Album]

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Marine Dreams' debut album stands as proof that some of the most remarkable albums come from unlikely sources. That's not meant to imply that the band or its patron (Attack In Black bassist) Ian Kehoe aren't deserving of praise for this effort (this album is fantastic, but more on that in a minute), just that with excellent solo records having already come from Attack In Black frontman Daniel Romano and guitarist Spencer Burton, it comes as a surprise to find that there's another strong songwriting source in the same group. That surplus of talent is uncommon, but one listen to Marine Dreams illustrates that Kehoe is most definitely the third pillar which upholds Attack In Black. Here, Kehoe shows listeners what he's been bringing to AIB for the last six years and, without any input on how the songs should sound other than his own, just how attractive the results can be.

From the moment “Fold The Sky” rolls easily in to open Marine Dreams, listeners will be floored by the slippery but sweet songwriter-ly strains which spill out of the song, and just how different it is from all the other side projects that have aerated out of Attack In Black over the last couple of years. Comparatively, the difference is dramatic; while Romano has been testing the waters of country music and Burton has been overtaken with folk inspiration recently, what comes from Kehoe is a fine kind of indie rock in the traditions of Sebadoh, Mountain Goats and Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Perfectly clean and trebly guitar tones chime against deep-set keyboards and thick bass tones and spare drumming to offer listeners an impression of sublime simplicity – a welcome change from the stylistic veering Kehoe's bandmates have pushed out – and is made all the better by Kehoe's modest, untrained tenor. The effect is elating – a most wonderful return to a genuine indie rock performance style – and listeners won't get lost as the song begins to wander into more structurally soft climes at about the 1:15 mark; as was the case with many of Sebadoh's early releases, while Kehoe may wander off-course as he plays through a song, the sparkle never fades or gets lost so listeners will come rushing back with him when the singer returns to center. That same “fine alt/indie rock” paradigm dominates songs including “Yet To See The Sun,” “Season In Hell” (which sort of borrows the signature guitar lick from Shadowy Men on A Shadowy Planet's song “Having An Average Weekend”), “New Decade” and “No Face,” and listeners will find themselves hypnotized by the easy-going, personable delivery of each, as well as the warm, fuzzy production of them. The spell is only broken once by the quicker tempo and (slightly) harder edge of “Sudden Dark Truths,” but that song proves to be an anomaly as the album's tone is restored with “Visions” and endures to the end of its run-time.

It might sound odd to call a simple and easy-playing record like Marine Dreams “incredibly exciting,” but it truly is and achieves that stature not by being earnest or intentionally “different,” it just does so by naturally and fluidly presenting good songs and great performances. That self-assured stature proves to be mind-blowing here. With Marine Dreams, Ian Kehoe has set himself up to be the member of Attack In Black to watch closest because of the promise it represents.



Marine Dreams – “Fold The Sky” – Marine Dreams


Marine Dreams is out now. Buy it here on .

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