[30 March 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
In Chains is the third and final EP in a trilogy recorded by New York-based Dead Heart Bloom. It is also a distinct departure from the previous two, that were full of well-orchestrated but often crunchy indie rock.
Here, the group tries its hand at subtler, gentler sounds, and on opener “Flash in a Bottle” they do well with their folkier side. The echoed vocals and the light string of lead notes over acoustic guitars and spare percussion makes for a simple but effective mix. They let the song stretch out, and harmonize beautifully over the bridge, and make a fragile but beautiful counterpart to all the louder stuff on their other discs.
But, from there the rest of the EP struggles to find that same successful mix. None of the other songs feel like they’re given the same space and patience “Flash in a Bottle”. And every song, even the slightly fuller sound of “Halfway Gone”, are let down by reed-thin vocals. The ghostly hush on the first track was a good choice by the band, but the quiet delivery throughout the EP sounds watered-down and unnecessary, as if by whispering the band assures a warm, inviting nature to songs that never come together enough to earn your attention. Dead Heart Bloom got the quiet sound right once here, but the other four songs plod along aimlessly and, with the exception of the serviceable folk of “Farther Than You”, sound like their lulling themselves to sleep, and taking you with them.