"I’m too sacred for the sinners/And the saints wish I would leave." - Mark Heard
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Review - Common Children - The Inbetween Time
Whereas other Common Children albums are a collection of songs this one feels like a cohesive album that must be listened to in one sitting. With headphones. In the dark.The Inbetween Time is a glorious mixture of melodic, fuzzy guitar rock and drifting, wandering space rock. The listener is one minute bathed in a psychedelic wash of unearthly soundscapes only to be brought roughly back to earth with a driving rhythm and crunchy guitars, a tendency that is at times appealing but also creates for an uneven listening experience. For instance, the album opens with an ethereal preface "Absence of Light" with lots of reverb and echoes, drawing the listener into a sedentary state before shifting into "Entertaining Angels" which is full of jangly, high-energy guitars… a sweet but rude awakening. With a photo inside showing more effects pedals and boxes than I've seen in some guitar stores, be prepared to hear a plethora of new sounds. Due to the many effects, this is definitely a headphone album, not to mention a guitar album and a studio/production album, all wrapped in good songwriting. "Celebrity Virtue" begins with a bubbling bass and calm verse vocals, vocals which become angry in the bridge and absolutely explode for the chorus, swirling amidst pleasantly distorted guitars and a caustic guitar solo. The title track is a six-minute instrumental adventure in deep space, a dizzying wash of spacey guitar tones floating in zero gravity and surrounded by rocketing comets. The music is a controlled cacophony, always on the edge of too much but always reigned in, similar to The Choir, very early Pink Floyd, and even perhaps Phish. The album as a whole has a theme of hope amidst the horrors of life, an uplifting quality that reminded me of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up." One song whispers "How many time a day do you feel unhappiness? / How many times a night do you close your eyes?" while the final song plays sparse acoustic guitar against such naked lyrics as "You should know by now / It's gonna hurt like the first time / And this won't be the last time / Your heart comes crashing down." But such darkness is, like the Gabriel song, answered by a shaft of light, hope cutting through the darkness in a way that is neither false nor in genuine. For these current times, such a message is quite welcome.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, October 2001.