Brothers Brett and Brady Fieldcamp and Jesse York formed SATURN in 2003. Three years later they would release their debut album entitled In Sorrow You’ll Find Hope, which earned them a loyal fan base. They wouldn’t come out with their sophomore release entitled A Long Discussion for another twelve years. The album contains thirteen songs and is quite scattered when it comes to style and theme. I thought some of it worked very well and some of it fell a bit short. That being said I would say the majority falls into the former. The band flirts with post-rock, pop, ambient and a couple of places in between.
The album kicks off “Asleep Inside the Sound,” which starts off with a lone piano and vocals. I loved the piano sound, which reminded me of Silver Mt. Zion. The song is extremely melancholy and is basically on the verge of despair. You can surely understand my surprise when I heard the second track “The Crows,” which was upbeat and lively.
“The Crows” is a great song and can easily make a case for being the standout track on the album. The instrumentation is a rich tonal palette with a piano taking the lead but the vocal melody is what makes this song special. It’s instantly catchy and I felt the delivery was especially effective here. Guitars start to become more prevalent on “All the Clouds in the Sky,” which tumbles along with a kinetic energy that gets powered by a steady percussion and very welcome trumpet.
I have ambivalent feelings about a couple of the songs. One that comes to mind was “Absolute,” which is seven- plus-minutes that doesn’t go anywhere. It’s atmospheric and beautiful in a melancholy kind of a way but I think it could have been wrapped up in four minutes since the energy doesn’t change. The next track “Canada” is longer but doesn’t feel like it since it contains peaks and valleys. This is a bit post-rock mixed in with elements of jazz and metal. I have to say it felt worlds away from some of the other material.
As the album progresses there were more twists and turns that had me scratching my head. “Holy Hands” is an acoustic based folk song while “Ghosts II” is grandiose style post-rock. They close with an extremely sparse and dismal song called “asleep”.
The biggest issue with A Long Discussion is the flow. A majority of those the songs work on their own but when listened to in sequential order it feels like a compilation CD rather than an album that has recurring themes (something that can happen when taking twelve years to make an album). I’m not sure the band realizes that they have a gift for writing a great indie pop song as the displayed on “The Crows.”
I was hoping that the band would explore that territory more. Overall, this is a solid yet disjointed album that contains a number of songs that are clear highlights.
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