When doing these reviews, if I'm lucky, I get to listen to these albums two or three times. The last listen normally comes while I'm writing the review. This isn't to say that I haven't reviewed music that I think is worth repeated listenings. It is more in response to the number of albums that I still have to work through. I can't spend that much time listening to albums repeatedly when there are three or four other albums giving me the evil eye from my shelf. And I hate the evil eye. I mean, if I wanted to listen to an album repeatedly, I'd have to avoid going into my office altogether. And that is where I keep my insulin.
I haven't seen that place in over a week. And I don't feel so good.
Now, I hear their cries through the ceiling but I just turn Airport Cathedral up louder and louder to drown them out. Drown them out with tasty goodness.
In case you were wondering what "tasty goodness" entails, you should just know that it is complicated. Simply put, the album is the product of being at the right place at the right time when the stars aligned and the heavens opened and the angels and leprechauns and all that. It is good. When the album opens, the drums kick in on the offbeat, jump on and never leave. I would describe it as plodding but that has too many negative connotations. The drums drive the songs on this album but they don't weigh it down. In combination with the cymbals, the drums really set up more of a head bounce instigator.
As the drums start off, they are joined by the real unsung hero of this album, the piano/keyboard. Always present, never intrusive, they are a constant reminder of the delicate and intricate ways that albums can be improved with thoughtful additions. With rare exceptions like "Cure-Alls" where the keyboards play a significant role in establishing a motif that runs through the entire song, they remain a supporting player. And-even in the case of "Cure-Alls"-the keyboards don't assume that they should do too much. Less in this case is more. And it leaves you wanting more. Which is just what Andy Fitts gives you.
When Andy Fitts opens his mouth to sing with the uncanny, quality of Pedro the Lion's David Bazan, you are aware of distance. When he sings softly, he is very close to the microphone. You can hear his mouth opening before singing. You hear him inhaling before singing. If he were in the room with you, he would be right next to your ear, whispering. When he does sing out, it sounds like he is being swallowed by a large room. You can almost see him standing in the other corner singing into a microphone that is hanging from the ceiling just out of his reach. And it is the conflicting feelings of intimacy and isolation that truly sell this band. On "Daggers", Fitts begins by quietly, lowly pining "I only wanted to hear your voice." By the end of the song the intensity has built and that line is then doubled by Fitts' yelling. The diametrically opposed sounds just intensify the feelings of remorse and desperation and the conflicting emotions create the bridge that we understand between the two. And the listeners are left nodding their head not only to the beat but also in agreement, conspirators in that lonely place waiting to hear the secret password that Andy Fitts screams and whispers simultaneously.
While "tasty goodness" may not have been the most descriptive term to use in regards to Airport Cathedral's sound, it is the best way to keep me from reverting to the old "lightning in a bottle" phrase. It may also have had something to do with my low blood sugar. Now, I shall return to the office to listen to more CDs but, fear not, Jetlag will not be far from the top of the pile, ready to jump into rotation at a moments notice.