| I was elated when, mixed in amongst spam and more spam, I discovered my long-awaited preordered copy of One Fell Swoop, The Spill Canvas' sophomore album. I didn't play it immediately—rather, I waited out the evening until I had an hour to myself with nothing to do.
I wasn't sure what to expect from One Fell Swoop... I had fallen completely in love with The Spill Canvas after hearing a selection of songs from their debut album, Sunsets and Car Crashes, and had been somewhat troubled after hearing some of the tracks off of OFS. Confident, however, that I'd be as rocked by this album as I had been by the last, I went ahead and sprung for a copy, hoping to be blown away like I had been with "Black Dresses" or "Your Evil Soul". Nervous with anticipation, I put the CD in, lay back, and just listened.
At first, you hear nothing... a quiet drumbeat, and so I turn the volume up on my stereo, cursing my speakers. A drumbeat, quiet, airy strumming, building, building...
And then the crashing, banging feel of the guitar came in, and I'm blown away by the fiery strains of "Lust A Prima Vista".
"In one fell swoop it became clear to me..." One Fell Swoop starts off with a bang—"Lust A Prima Vista", one of the faster songs, gets you clapping (yes, clapping) right off the bat. With a fast beat and TSC-standard levels of guitar awesomeness, my worries about the quality of this new album begin to blow away.
"Staplegunned", another fast one, isn't fantastic as TSC songs go, but I nonetheless found myself murmuring, "Oh the chemistry between us could destroy this place..." continually afterwards. Things get magnificently back on track with "Polygraph, Right Now". How can any track so titled not be wonderful? And it is wonderful... not only are the crooned lyrics heartbreakingly sweet, but against the background of a nice guitar and an even nicer piano... wow.
"Dutch Courage" and "Natalie Marie and 1cc" are likewise awesome. "Dutch Courage" is mournful, tinged with resentfulness, and is a good song to get apathetically riled-up to. With "Natalie Marie" and a handful of other songs, what stands out most sharply is TSC's great story-telling ability. Recall, if you do, "The Tide" from Sunsets and Car Crashes, wherein Nick Thomas writes a six-minute short story set to aching music, thus proving himself a master of my particular craft—the written, or in his case, the lyrical. Throughout all of TSC's music, in both Sunsets and Car Crashes and One Fell Swoop, there is an overall sophistication of language, a prevailing sense of heartbreaking poignancy... Certainly, the literary genius is much stronger in some songs than others, but in certain songs, there's maybe one line, or one image, that just rocks the listener. And in the few story songs, the ones that have a plot—man, those are just wicked captivating.
After "Natalie Marie And 1cc" we have a short lull... "Teleport: A&B" is quieter, a little less of the aforementioned literary genius there; "Break A Leg" is quite good, with a great change of pace toward the end that would be great to shout along with at concerts, if they weren't playing in SANTA CRUZ the NIGHT BEFORE Senior Year starts...; "This Is For Keeps" is a good, slower song, nice, soothing keyboard... mellow instruments introduced one by one to accompany slow, pause-heavy lyrics full of nostalgia—it's a great nostalgia song, really; after that, the pace picks back up with "Himerus and Eros", which is another of those "Ok, not-so-much on the literary genius tone" but still, a nice love-hate song—you can really see the Maroon 5 influence there.
With "Valiant", things get rocking again—the powerful lyrics are crooned, then chanted, then whispered, then belted—the constantly-evolving rhythms of the song stick it enduringly in my head. The full range of pacing throughout the song, and the transitions from quiet to loud, with this enduring intensity—yeah. Good song.
"Secret Oath" is, after "Valiant", not quite as outstanding melody- and instrumental-wise. Its rhythm changes are subtler, less moving instrumentally... but man, the lyrics on this one. The crescendo of hopeful angst halfway through the song leading into the guitar solo—right on.
"Bound To Happen" also has memorable lyrics, and is for the greater part a slow song, with steady plucking of guitar strings and slow drumbeat. A good breakup song, if I'm any judge. Not clichéd, and it hits close to home with its awkwardly sad imagery.
I've gone on for a while now, but at last we reach the last track of this fine album—"Self-Conclusion". Suffice to say, this is the song for which I bought the album. Like I mentioned earlier, I was leery of buying this album, after comparing sample tracks to those of Sunsets and Car Crashes, but this song was when I knew I had to at least give One Fell Swoop a try. It's a beautifully-written story-song. It calls to my mind infinite ideas for music videos. It's got beautiful guitar, and no other instruments, and there are just these lines, sprinkled throughout—
I'm done. "Self-Conclusion" is awesome, One Fell Swoop is a fine, balanced album. I would completely recommend that you go out now and buy it—years down the line, people will list these guys as primary influences on their musical careers, you'll see.
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| ONE FELL SWOOP
One Eleven Records
1) Lust A Prima Vista
3) Polygraph, Right Now
4) Dutch Courage
5) Natalie Marie and 1cc
6) Teleport: A&B
7) Break A Leg
8) This Is For Keeps
9) Himerus And Eros
11) Bound To Happen
<< 12) Self-Conclusion >>