Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

As long as we're on the subject of sorta disappointing American freak-folk follow-ups (see last Friday's JOSEPHINE FOSTER evaluation), let's talk about this new one from ESPERS. Earlier in the annum we discovered their "Weed Tree" CD from last year & did something of a swoon, as we so often do. We then backtracked and bought the first one, and dug that too. But this one - not so full of confidence here, friends. It's really just some of the same delicate and fruitful old wine in new bottles, minus a lot of the snuck-up-on-ya thrills of the last two. My concerns stem from the lack of any real standout lovelies like tracks on their other ones like "Flowery Noontide", "Rosemary Lane" and "Hearts and Flowers", and perhaps from the fact that if something can be said in five minutes, you can definitely count on "Espers II" to say it in 8 or 9. This reaches its intolerable point on "Children of Stone", which might or might not be 38 minutes long - I just know I wanted it to stop, and stop it I have, every time it's come on. When the girl sings, man she's got a pretty voice, no doubt about that, but she's just so goddamn precious that you just wish you could watch her throw up on her shoes or stagedive or something to prove there's a pulse there.

Listen, I have not come to bury our good friends the ESPERS right out of the gate, I just find this a distinct drop-off, and rather quickly at that. All the parts are roughly in place from before - the gentle feedback, the male/female harmonies that easily slide into place like a goddamn baseball glove in September, the layman's noise experimentation that make Espers quite a bit less pedestrian than, say, VETIVER -- but I'd like to call this their Junior Year slump & hope they get the magic working in time for Senior Year finals.