Friday, May 02, 2008

Gold Sounds: Pattern Is Movement's new album "All Together" reviewed!

Pattern Is Movement - All Together

Philadelphia's Pattern Is Movement, who recently became a duo, are back with their third album (and first on new label Hometapes) All Together.

The band is often compared to Pinback, a comparison that makes sense in that both bands make intricate, minimalist pop songs with very precise rhythms. Indeed, nothing about this album is sloppy. Not one note of the album is extraneous, and all ten songs are very concise. Though all this is evident to the listener, none of it takes away from the record's appeal. While it sounds complicated on paper, this assembly line-like efficiency somehow translates to a very pleasant listen; everything just sounds so right about this album. It's impossible to listen from start to finish without finding yourself bobbing your head to at least one song, and the album is filled with many surprising twists and turns, keeping the listener interested and wondering what will happen next.

Starting with the very beginning of the first song "Bird," Pattern Is Movement reel the listener in and show them they mean business. Quick drumming and sailing vocals anchor the beginning of "Bird," but then out of nowhere everything stops and a single, beautiful Rhodes piano figure is performed, followed by a similarly beautiful flute piece, courtesy of member Andrew Thiboldeaux's mellotron. The breakdown ends as abruptly as it starts, flawlessly transitioning back into the song's opening notes. The band does not miss a beat during this song, which can be said for the rest of the album as well.

Similarly shocking are the transitions between songs. The subdued "Sea Captain," which sounds sort of like a waltz on a cruise ship, ends very innocuously but leads into the opening horn blare (again, the wonders of the mellotron) of "Sound of Your Voice," with singer Andrew Thiboldeaux declaring "How I just like the sound of your voice!" triumphantly over the music. This turn of events is surprising enough, but the immediate, driving introduction shortly gives way to a drumming/Rhodes piano breakdown (one of the album's best moments), and right when this breakdown ends, these two parts of the song are immediately repeated. All the songs employ repetition to great effect, and their ideas are so unique that this repetition does not bore the listener. It's obvious that the band named themselves Pattern Is Movement for a reason.

There are just so many impressive songs on this album, it's difficult to discuss them all in one review. "Peach Trees" offers some of the album's best and most haunting melodies, while "Jenny Ono" possesses an amazing vocal performance by Thiboldeaux. His vocal delivery, at first listen, sounds better suited for opera than pop, but they compliment the band's music very nicely, though lyrics are very hard to make out the majority of the time. As previously mentioned, all instrumentation is carefully calculated, but the main force behind the music of Pattern Is Movement is Chris Ward's drumming. The man clearly has talent, and none of these songs would work as well without his consistently impressive percussion skills. With his drumming, he serves as the band's navigation system, keeping them on track throughout all their unique instrumental flourishes. Without it, the lofty instrumentation would be harder to stomach and consistently listen to, and the music would just sail off into the distance, never to be remembered again.

All aspects considered, Pattern Is Movement have made a very impressive third album. Every song has a moment that makes an impression in the mind of the listener and stays there all day. Some songs are a little more impressive than others (it's hard not to play favorites here), but there are absolutely no duds on the record. Check out the band on tour in smaller venues around the Northeast before the influx of good reviews occurs, which it will. All Together is one of the best, most unique albums released so far this year, and it will serve to put the band on the map in 2008.

Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: Sound of Your Voice, Peach Trees, Jenny Ono

Listen: Myspace

The album will be released in the U.S. on May 6th via Hometapes

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