Let me start out by saying that after listening to one of my new favorite bands, Beth and Ian, and their latest album The Slow Loris, The Owl and The Chimpanzee it is like a breath of fresh of air. Why you may ask? Well because they write simply splendid songs that go down with ease and require such little effort to enjoy. The songs are fun and often breezy but don't lack substance. They kind of remind me of the oh so underrated The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group. Beth and Ian, who hail from Colorado Springs, Co, are a duo and also married. I always found this dynamic interesting for bands but four albums deep Beth and Ian seem only to be improving
One of the important things to mention here is that the production, from the engineering to the mastering, sounds absolutely great – better than the majority of what indie acts produce. This adds a lot of value to the songs as everything sits so well in the mix. I was also impressed by the technical skill. There was some great piano work as well as some pretty nifty drumming. The songs contain a variety of instruments including keys, trumpet and flugel horn and even some electronic programming in addition to the organic drum set. In the wrong hands this could sound convoluted but the opposite is actually true. Beth and Ian chose their space wisely and because of that the songs feel open and almost playful.
The album opens with “One by One”, which is a rather slow number compared to some of the other songs but was exceptional. Guitar and piano dance around cascading melodies as drums play behind the beat. The drumming was subtle but a genius use of rhythm in my opinion not unlike Steven Drozd plays on some Flaming Lips songs. As I stated before the song is rather easy going down but has an emotional anchor on this one that creates a dichotomy that is no easy feat. ”Overrun” was one of the highlights for me as it was an upbeat exuberant tune where the vocals were treated to near perfection as the harmonies of both Beth and Ian come together to create a memorable vocal melody. Besides the vocals the piano was spot on as it played in tandem with a Rhodes synth. We hear some nice classic guitar and horns on “Crazy Just Like You” which is an eclectic mix of genres that ends up just sounding like a good song. On “Heart Scaffold” Beth and Ian display some of their vocal abilities as they harmonize at times while other times they mix things up by singing separately – a unique exercise that works surprisingly well.
The album closes with “The Others” which is one of the poppiest sounding songs on the album leaving us with a smile instead of a smirk. After listening to this album there really isn’t much that didn’t work. Put simply Beth and Ian’s latest effort showcases exceptional songwriting and technical ability that when combined with stellar production is not something you are going to want to miss.
Divide and Conquer is dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We review a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
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