| Architectures of the Atmosphere is the debut full-length from Cue the Doves, released about a month ago. Cue the Doves’ members have played in many other groups, such as fairly well-known California hardcore band The Beautiful Mistake, so they’re clearly no freshmen to the music scene. Their Purevolume page proclaimed them rock/post-hardcore/experimental, and various zines trumpeted the bands the members had merged from. But I’m not one to decide whether or not to listen to a band based on genre, and quite frankly, I wanted to know about the current band as a whole, not what its individual members sounded like before. I am of the firm belief that bands should be judged solely based on their own merit, not who they’ve played with or those “for fans of” stickers that more often than not take up the entirety of a CD’s cover.
With this in mind, I popped in Architectures of the Atmosphere and gave it a whirl. The album starts off with an instrumental track that sounds like something out of a dark but very rockin’ Cirque de Soleil. Kinda weird, kinda chilling, kinda scary. This mood continues even when vocals kick in on the second track. Minor chords and a vocal melody that doesn’t quite follow the instruments give the songs a very sci-fi feeling. Judging from the song titles and their lyrics—like “An Astronomer’s Ellipse” and “Sphere of the Abyss”—I guess that’s what they were aiming for.
Most of the songs lack a recognizable song structure, and in the songs that do have one, it’s weak. And while that may work for some bands and/or some songs, it left me feeling like a huge chunk of a puzzle was missing. I really couldn’t get into any of the tracks, and the aforementioned minor keys and ambling, colliding melodies played a big part in this. At times it felt like trying to listen to two songs at once or switching songs suddenly midway through a track, which was very weird and uncomfortable. There’s no doubt that these guys are skilled at what they do—the drumming is fantastic, and their vocalist has a pretty wicked scream (see: “The Balance” and “The Red Planet Falls”)—but if there was a message or meaning I was supposed to understand from this album, it’s just not getting through.
Cue the Doves is definitely one of the more unique bands out there, and no, I’m not using “unique” as a euphemism for “bizarre.” The thing about branching out from the sheep and taking a stab at standing out, though, is that it’s less likely that you’ll have a huge amount of people who will understand and appreciate what you’re doing. I applaud Cue the Doves for doing what they do, but it’s not something I’d recommend to very many people. It takes a certain taste to dig music like this—listen to a track or two on Purevolume and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re willing to take a chance on something you definitely haven’t heard before, though, pick this album up and give it a shot. You might just discover a new favorite band.
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| CUE THE DOVES
Dead Letter Records
1) Majestic Twelve
<< 2) Sphere of the Abyss >>
3) An Astronomer's Ellipse
4) The Balance
5) Course One: The Abductions
6) Architectures of the Atmosphere
7) The Red Planet Falls
8) Peregrine Mountain: the Aftermath
10) Escape the Cell