Friday, July 18, 2008

CD Review: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

A few months ago, Pitchfork had 'Buriedfed' on its venerable Forkcast. It's a great song - one of the best of the year, really - that builds from a simple strummed guitar all the way into a cacaphony of slightly off-kilter voices and crashing drums. It's also depressing as hell, but the lyrics are good to the point where it's not TOO much of a downer. After hearing a similarly good song called 'The Debtor', I was excited for a full-length release from MBAR (as people are seemingly calling him these days).

The full length is here, and I'm really not sure what to think. The two songs I really enjoyed are the first two song on the CD, and they're really the only two that follow the stripped down, folky singer-songwriter vibe. Almost all the other songs run with hazy guitar (think Grizzly Bear) wandering around through them. The atmosphere is a crushing one, and combined with his slightly off-kilter voice, things sort of feel like a druggy nightmare.

Then there's the lyrics. Dark, hopeless, depressing lyrics are not something that any listener of music in general (and indie music in particular) are unfamiliar with, but these are a special batch. Mr. Robinson has gone through a rough stretch, it seems, and he exorcizes a lot of demons here. There's not a lot of light to be had at the end of any of these tunnels. Lest I sound like a Plugged In reviewer, 'Buriedfed' uses some of the most hopeless imagery on the disc, and it's my favorite song of the bunch, it's just that SOMETHING needs to click with the listener. I'm admitedly not a large fan of the hazy soundscapes that Grizzly Bear comes out with, a lot of the lyrics are hard to identify with, and the vocals are hard to get into without the emotion behind them. When it comes to it, that's a large part of the problem, when MBAR sings, it feels like it's over, there's no fight left - there's a shocking number of things one can overlook in music when it feels like there's some fire behind them, as there is in Buriedfed.

I still greatly enjoy Buriedfed and The Debtor, but after multiple listens to the rest of Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, there's nothing else for me to grab onto. It's soul-baring is admirable, but not necessarily something I want to listen to.


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