As the House...
US: 25 May 2010
Sometimes you get the impression that a band’s just trying too hard. This Piano Plays Itself, for instance. You could instantly come to this assumption based on its nonsensical-but-perfectly-formed sentence of a band name, but the whole “book by its cover” thing comes to mind and that’s not fair. Listen to second album, As the House…, however, and you hear the sort of calculatedly indie sound that occasionally comes off just as grandiose and epic as it’s meant to, but comes off as cloying and pretentious at least as often. This Piano Plays Itself intentionally eschews traditional song structure for movement-based suites that tend to sound so much like each other that it’s difficult to figure out where the tracks begin and end. There are delay-drenched, shoegaze-y bits à la My Bloody Valentine and there are a cappella singalongs à la Akron Family. Sometimes some spacey electronics enter the mix, sometimes there’s singing, but it all just kind of happens, because this is how you make an indie album, this is how to engineer it to sound “different”. There is apparently a concept at work here, at least that’s the impression, based on song titles like “Who We Were”, “What Happened”, and “When We Got There”), but lyrics like “City buildings are nothing more / Than boxes stacked upon the floor / The people, they are trapped inside / watching all the weeks go by” don’t offer much of a clue to what that concept may be. Really, As the House… is a passively interesting album as it’s playing, but it fails to leave any lasting impression.