Album name: Memories Are Hunting Horns
Artist name: Saredren Wells
Released: 11 May 2010
Label: Rinehart Records
ZME Rating: 6/10
SCENE: A post-post-apocalyptic Earth – burgeoning cities arise next to arid wastelands, the human race who had for centuries abandoned this place having returned mere decades ago. As rugged off-road vehicles race along the desert trails, a passenger-carrying space cruiser glides past the screen, a child waving to camera from behind a window. The cruiser rises into the starry expanse of space, and a blue ion trail wipes to reveal…
CAPTION: Wall-E 2: The Road Wall-E-er
SCENE: Zoom to the desert trail. A battered-but-speedy hovercar, driven by criminal-at-large Burly McGee, is speeding away from robotic police-bots. A cockroach, perched on a tall rock, watches the vehicles speed past.
BURLY: Ba-ha-ha-ha! You’ll never catch me now! I am the NIGHT RIDER! A-ha-haha!
(He navigates seemingly effortlessly through a series of jagged rocky outcroppings. The pursuing coppers scrape damagingly against the jags, one sparking and igniting. The other is damaged in the resulting explosion.)
POLICE-BOT 47: We are out of the chase. Repeat: we are out of the chase. (Red digitised eyes turn to slits. Explodes.)
BURLY: Whoo-hoo! I am a fuel-injected suicide machine, baby!
(From a side trail emerges another robot, its silhouette betraying a clearly different construction. Sitting atop the robot, the charmingly obese Captain McCrea. The robot gives a good-natured grunt of effort as he begins to move. It’s Wall-E, aviator sunglasses stylishly affixed to his “eyes”.)
MCCREA: You’re right, Wall-E. We are going to need to do something drastic to catch a villain as devillishly headstrong as Burly McGee.
(The tiny, deceptively cute robot speeds down the trail, stocky captain holding tight, towards the approaching malfeasant: a daring game of chicken. Neither party seems ready to concede defeat. Sweat is dripping from McCrea’s forehead. His eyes widen.)
BURLY: (shielding his eyes) Aaaaaahhhhhh!
(Suddenly, a bright blue flash, and Burly’s car explodes harmlessly, seconds away from mangling impact. From behind Wall-E emerges EVE, her laser-arm still smoking.)
WALL-E: Eve. Wall-E.
MCCREA: Haha! You said it, Wall-E. Burly McGee won’t be stealing any of our apples again anytime soon.
BURLY: (From the smoldering remains of his car) Ow-ee.
So: Saredren Wells’ five-years-in-the-making debut album, Memories Are Hunting Horns… Reading his press release, he’s positioned himself as “the Midwestern response to Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros”, while also building his music from the history of Louisville, Kentucky. A far punchier description of his musical style is this thing: that guy from Cold War Kids singing My Morning Jacket’s The Tennessee Fire for a French art movie.
As strange and awful as that sounds, it is not a Bad Thing. In fact, it’s a nice combination, assuming you like stripped-down folk music. And you probably do, since that seems to be all the rage these days, assuming you’re not one of those awful people whose listening habits depend on what ringtones are popular to download this week. As long as you’re not one of those cretinous creatures, you’ll most likely find something to like here.
The highlight of the album is the wonderful “In Advance of a Broken Arm”. (Actually, while we’re here, a word about the song titles Wells has chosen: they’re ridiculous. They put me off listening to the album for a good week or two, unable to bear playing a song bearing the title “For Wes Andersen (or you)”, or “…Whose Sound Dies Out Along The Wind”. It’s the back of a CD sleeve, guy, not a post-modernist poetry collection. But I digress.) “Broken Arm” is probably the most Sigur Ros-sy of all the songs on offer here, owing to the huge, echoing drums that drift in and out behind Wells’ simply-strummed tale of a strained love. It also benefits from the string arrangement, which is quite gorgeous. As an added bonus, as we here at ZME compete for your love, here it is. For free! We love you. Gissa kiss.
The rest of the album, save for an instrumental track, is much more in the early-MMJ vein (ie. more If All Else Fails than Highly Suspicious), which makes some amount of sense, considering their shared Louisville heritage. And if Wells’ voice is never as peculiarly expressive as Jim James’, it’s also probably less divisive: it’s plain and honest, rather than unique and astounding. This works in his favour – the record is, generally, plain and honest. It all fits.
It’s all rather pretty, too. “To Live In Dreams and Memories” crawls along almost lethargically, but it feels like the glorious lethargy of lying in bed for too long on a sunny morning, rather than the dull, annoying lethargy of walking to the train station too slowly on a rainy Tuesday. “Plainsong/Folksong” (a strangely bearable song title) is a simple, but enticingly discordant, love song for a “girl with a hardened heart”. Each song shows Wells to be an assured, if fairly conservative, songwriter.
So why, I hear you ask, am I only awarding this fine album a mere six out of a possible ten? And in response, I say “Observe”, for this is one of those times when an out-of-ten marking scheme drives me to crumple my facial features with this nearby compass. “Six out of ten” is the direct equivalent of “three out of five”, yet the former sounds far less impressive than the latter. Therefore, please, think of this as 3/5 rather than 6/10. Also, keep in mind that I only awarded Amber Rubarth’s Good Mystery 8/10, and that’s my favourite album of the year. Listen to both of these.
THE LEMBICKSON SCIENCE TRACKLISTING MACHINE:
- For Wes Andersen (or you)
- In Advance of a Broken Arm
- Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me?
- Memories Are Hunting Horns…
- To Live In Dreams And Memories
- Diamond In The Sea
- …Whose Sound Dies Out Along The Wind