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Small Sails - Similar Anniversaries Review

by Patrick Muldowney

There is something incredibly annoying about an album which continually points out the need for something that the album itself does not have. Similar Anniversaries is one of those albums, and the annoying element for which it is a repeated teaser is lyrics. There is nothing wrong with an electronic group who foregoes lyrics for ambience, but there is something wrong with a group who repeatedly makes sounds a parent might make to a two-week old in place of lyrics, or a group that writes one line to sing seventy times in a row in place of verses or choruses. Small Sails does both, and while it may be excusable for one track, the ten track experience is like being stuck in the middle of a calm lake with a small sail, no row, and no wind; drowning seems like a healthy alternative.

Invoking definitive knowledge of how to get a slumber started, Similar Anniversaries kicks in with "The Somnambulist", a sleepwalk of "las, has, nas, nos", countered by soothing acoustics and skins. Not quite music for the living, but a sound investment for hospitals looking to naturally induce comas. Io, higho, bop, bedop, bo, ahhhhhhh, aaaahhhahhhh, and heyo summarize the next few tracks. Do you get the picture? There is always that gibberish that somehow becomes a reminder of mashed peas and carrots in containers half the size of an adult palm, and, for me, that gibberish is "corners", and its poignant, "a-way-oh, a-way-oh-a". It doesn't hurt that "corners" has some hard hitting percussion and musical pauses to add rhythmic effect.

Small Sails does a poor job incorporating voice as a musical instrument in any original way, but the continued effort signals the need to recruit a lyricist. For now, skim Similar Anniversaries for the baby talk you like, add it to your sleepy time playlist, and let the others drift away.

Tracks added to iPod: corners

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