Monday, June 05, 2006

The Spell

The Spell

The Black Heart Procession
Touch + Go, 2006

Sounds Like: positive melodrama
For: Fans of gloom and gloaming
Listen: The Black Heart Procession - GPS

Downtempo misery all-stars The Black Heart Procession are often criticized for sounding same-y, or, alternately, maintaining a mostly consistent sound through four albums. Despite the tropicalia influences on 2004's Amore del Tropico, this is relatively accurate, though, one could always argue in favor of maintaining a proven formula. The Spell, then, gives the band a counterpoint in the form of its most varied, and best, album to date.

Album openers "Tangled" and "The Spell" seem to find the band in holding position, but at peak form. The former a fairly standard piano-driven dirge, the latter a throbbing slow-burning rocker. The real break comes with the major key, danceable gloomer "Not Just Words," that recalls The Cure, not in sound, but in the way it drives the hips of the depressed to shake (effeminately, of course). This sound is revisited two tracks later with "The Replacement," being separated by the album's centerpiece ballad, "The Letter."

Perhaps the most exciting moment on the album is tangled in the addictive, almost metallic riff driving "GPS," and later revisited at the end of "The Fix." This guitar line wraps itself around the rest of band and drags them behind it to the most satisfying climax on the album.

The Procession has shown a remarkable amount of growth through its career, and, while this album stands as a high water mark, it also hints at even greater things to come.



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