Friday, December 15, 2006

The Receiver -- Decades

A pox on Radiohead. Although they were far from the first to attempt it, the marriage of electronica and indie rock heard on albums such as Kid A and Amnesiac has launched a veritable Radiohead Wannabe invasion, with countless insecure creeps crooning their angst-filled lyrics against the dissonant gurgle of synths and sci-fi spaceship blips and beeps. I probably receive one album per week that roughly fits those parameters.

So a new one showed up earlier this week -- Decades, by Columbus, Ohio's The Receiver. And it very quickly set itself apart from the morose, scowling pack. The Receiver are two brothers, Casey and Jesse Cooper. Jesse plays drums; Casey plays almost everything else, which includes synths, organ, piano, and bass. One Pastor Anthony Rogers plays cello.

So why should you care? For several reasons. First, Casey is a fine composer. And "composer" really is the operative word here. Decades is an album that needs to be heard as a whole, if only to hear the way Casey weaves his motifs in and out through the various songs. He's adept at the kind of symphonic post-rock synthesis that bands such as Godspeed You, Black Emperor and Sigur Ros work to perfection. Second, Jesse's drums, which are very much the product of a human being and not a machine, offer some much needed warmth and humanity to these lovely but icy soundscapes. Finally, Casey does a very credible Thom Yorke imitation -- a little more breathy than our Alienated Hero, but full of quiet passion and intensity.

The song lyrics are fuzzy odes to fading memories and disconsolate loss. They could be about God, a girlfriend, or a pet guppy. No matter. The Receiver's debut album is both challenging and lovely, and I can't wait to see what icy terrain they travel next.

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