Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Album Review | Admiral Fallow - Tree Bursts In Snow

I've never made an album. Never written a song, or even attempted to write a lyric that would make a potential ladyfriend swoon. But there is one piece of knowledge that I share with those who have, and it comes from listening to countless albums, as a whole, instead of individual tracks downloaded piecemeal due to their accessibility. And in a day and age when said piecemeal is the norm, refreshingly, Admiral Fallow seems to have a bone-crushing grasp on the fact that, while the lion's share of their creative time could be spent crafting the world's most perfect pop song, that's not the goal, as proven by the trip they take us on over the course of Tree Bursts In Snow.

From the first word uttered by Sara Hayes, those who were lucky enough to share in Admiral Fallow's massively under-hyped first album, Boots Met My Face, will be ushered softly back to the moment that album ended. Quietly, as Louis Abbott begins to weave and build upon the collective elements that almost appear unknowingly, it's apparent that not one ounce of effort was spent attempting to create something that even closely resembles the band's heavily-woodwinded debut LP.

But while we could spend a few hours walking through the songs, dissecting them individually and picking an album standout that shouldn't be missed, regardless of how little money you have resting in your iTunes account, we should spend our time focusing on the ability to craft a record that is alive, and pulls us along its path, rather than sitting us down and holding us captive.

And as we are led by hand through Tree Bursts In Snow, it becomes apparent the path we're on is not flat; there are inclines and declines, peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows. Repeating bell-shaped curves act as a musical concierge of sorts. As if on rails, album opener "Tree Bursts" slowly assists us uphill, plateauing briefly to conjure the musical equivalent of a rolling meadow. Then quickly, we continue our ascent, gaining steam - locomotive style - via "The Paper Trench," before evening out for an enjoyable look out across the ground that's amazingly been covered in just a few short tracks, backed by "Guest of the Government."

The album clocks on, increasingly becoming a well-rounded journey, all the while, never leaving the confines of the rails it set out upon. Landscapes vary: "Old Fools" breaks our heart briefly, only to have "Isn't This World Enough" pick us up and dust us off via clapping hand and stomping foot. "Brother" gives us the energy to start upon the line home, where "Oh, Oscar" waits patiently to open the door and help us into a favorite chair.

Tree Bursts In Snow succeeds at every level, but not because it gives the slightest inkling that it's trying to do so. The masterful song ordering is no doubt something Admiral Fallow toiled over for hours on end, and ultimately, becomes what sets this album upon a pedestal. What they've done is take themselves out of the studio. Away from the mics, and knobs, even the pen and the page; they've proven they haven't lost sight of what it's like to be on the receiving end of a record. And that - beyond the myriad of reasons to love this album as a collection of individual songs, makes this it a masterful example of the power of the LP.

Pick up Tree Bursts In Snow here - it's out today.  And while you're at it, pick up Boots Met My Face as well. You'll thank yourself profusely later.

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