What a gloriously frustrating, exciting, promising and uneven debut!
Perfect Aquarium is loaded with ideas, so many ideas, enough for a limited edition series of EPs, which might be a better format to channel the copious themes and styles contained on Perfect Aquarium's self-titled debut Perfect Aquarium. You can see it in the album cover with organic invertebrate shapes overlaid with sacred geometry. You can see it in the instrumentation with classical guitar next to standard rock instrumentation. You can hear it in the many, many different musical styles, which hop all over the place like a game of hopscotch on burning tin.
As is usually the case, some of these exercises work and some experiments fail. The difference is, when Perfect Aquarium is good they're very, very good, and when they're bad they're, they're bad.
The only stumbling block, which probably is my bias speaking, is the second and third tracks "Crown" and "Sun." While the rest of the album bristles with excitement and experimentation like the musique concrete album opener "Hello," three minutes of buzzing, crackling hums and ominous dripping sounds, like descending into some magnificent cavern, "Crown" and "Sun" follows up the interesting, immersive introduction with two tracks of throwaway radio pop.
"Crown" and "Sun" could be lost The Dave Matthews Band or Marcy Playground outtakes, complete with nonsensical "baa-baa-baa" choruses, which aren't particularly well-recorded or performed to boot. If you're going to make vocal-centric radio pop, you’d better make dang sure the vocals are in tune and on point. They aren't, and it's nearly enough to derail a very excellent, adventurous rock n’ roll record.
Thank all that's unholy, Perfect Aquarium doesn't really return to their Top 40 fare, instead morphing into a rather excellent, tight and refined prog/psych/metal band for the rest of the record. That's a bit reductionist; as there are moody, lengthy guitar solos, flamenco guitar sketches, drum freak-outs, spoken words. It's a bit like Tool working with Ringo Starr from the middle of "The End" and Paco De Lucia. Sound confusing? It is. But interesting, telling a unique story that helps them to stand out from the bazillions of indie bands operating today.
Perfect Aquarium is clearly passionate about their interests. There seems to be a theme of "we're all in this together," living in the gravity well of Earth as one planet. It's idealistic and ambitious, which should be applauded. And while I don't think Perfect Aquarium should dial their ideas back, as their eclecticism is one of the greatest things they have going for them, I think their efforts would be better spent mining the underground than vying for airplay that would require much greater resources than they are currently working with.
Become A Fan
We are 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 critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook