Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Modern Skirts - All of Us In Our Night: "They’re Modern All Right"

The southern saunter and spunk of these Athenian musicians glazes over listeners like a humid, relaxing breeze. Modern Skirts’ sophomore album, All of Us in Our Night, made its debut in October 2008. Its goal was perhaps prematurely ambitious, but nonetheless admirable. From one track to the next, the boys aimed at incorporating every musical genre possible, giving the album new spins and unexpected shifts.

The steady rhythms pushed the eclectic record into many of the industry’s hearts, including R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, who helped produce “Motorcade,” a pleasant acoustic anthem, proudly proclaiming that “it doesn’t matter how the tide breaks, we’re gonna make it back to the shore.” With clear optimism, the Modern Skirts dove into concocting one of the most contrasting albums to date.

“Soft Petals” offers an intoxicated escape into a surreal world where all you need is a “knife and a merry-go-round.” The light and hypnotic drive of this song clashes with blatant hints of various vices. Also somewhat dark, “Chokehold,” combines the synthetic sound similar to the Postal Service with cool, Coldplay-like, lyrical vocals to create a reminiscent piece about life and mistakes.

“Radio breaks,” one of the CDs most genuine gems, tells a story of a romance unlike any other. A soulfully sweet piano breaks the good, or bad, news that “just in case you missed me, I’m leaving my bills for you to pay, I will love you dearly, for breaking the pain for me each day.” This song feels nothing short of simply right, emanating dedicated vocals, an instrumental break, and the classic fade.

The flavor quickly shifts in “Face Down,” a Weezer-ish rock ballad resonating with the usual heart-wrenching guitar motifs and heavy, dramatic drum-work. In contrast, “Conversational” cuts in as next track. This song radiates with Bright Eyes’ emotionality in search for identity, proclaiming, “’cause lately I’ve been likely, to be somebody like me, someone who’s really not me.”

Stitching together the sounds of OK GO and gypsies, “Astronauts,” is definitely the track that goes the extra mile on this record. Opening with a slick voice and sly guitar, it quickly captivates attention. Going along with the dark yet light trend, Modern Skirts infuse the track with more mischievous and delightful lyrics by adding “of all the things I leave behind, I want to die and leave my teeth, so you can keep a bright smile.”

The album’s scattered ambitions might signify that perhaps the Modern Skirts have spread themselves too thin. Yet their steady rhythms hold the diverse tracks like super glue. All of Us in Our Night takes time to chew, and only gets better with time. Before you know it, you’ll be mouthing, “I can’t shut off this stereo.”

- Tetyana Pecherska