| In the first couple minutes of You Can't Trust A Ladder, the strength of Aaron Marsh’s production is immediately striking: full bodied and sweet, and smart enough to use different snare drum tones on different tracks to keep away from rhythmic monotony. Marsh, singer/songwriter/guitarist of the band Copeland, must have picked up some production tricks from the latest Copeland album, like the occasional use of two drum sets at the same time, one in the left ear, the other in the right. The only thing that starts to get old is the overuse of certain vocal filters used on singer Jeremy Edwardson’s voice; a bit too much reverb, too much hiss, too New Wave.
Because of strong production, the album opener, “10,000 x 10,000,” is initially impressive, but further listens show that it is long-winded and not catchy enough to sustain the repeated listens first tracks usually get.
“When Hell Stretches Over,” with an incredibly smart bass line throughout and a chorus that’s been in my head for the last few weeks, is the first song to show off the Myriad’s strengths. This should have been the album’s opening track, in which case “10,000” could be pushed to the second half of the album. “When Fire Falls” is slightly less compelling than “Stretches,” with a verse that is so good it overshadows the somewhat predictable chorus. “The Last Time” is placed smartly as a slower song to follow the workout of two upbeat rockers, and even if it falls a bit short of the sugary cool-down it strives to be, it is appropriately short and relaxing, and it leads well into the album’s best track, “Perfect Obligation.”
Despite being the most obviously influenced by the current influx of dance-pop bands like Bloc Party, Arcade Fire and Hot Hot Heat, “Obligation” is a well-crafted, catchy, warm song, the kind of song that makes you want to make a mix tape and then find 12 others to go with it.
Perhaps because “Obligation,” which marks the middle of the disc, is so good, the album seems to take a fairly sharp turn downward from its glorious summit. “A New Language," featuring a guest vocal by Marsh and a swaying waltz tempo, is the only later track worth sticking around for. Most of the other songs suffer from an obvious Muse comparison, making it hard to take the Myriad seriously as an original act.
Ladder will make its way onto my iPod as five songs, rather than ten, but as a debut album, it shows promise. This band may choose to move toward a poppier sound, but they’d be better off moving in the direction of The Smiths on their next release: simpler, less concerned with making sure every song has a chorus, and a little darker.
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| YOU CAN'T TRUST A LADDER
1) 10,000 x 10,000
2) Hell Stretches Over
3) When Fire Falls
4) The Last Time
5) Perfect Obligation
8) A New Language
9) Nothing Is Safe
10) We Will Be Disappointed Together