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The Habit

Lincoln Has Won

(Reel to Reel; US: 3 May 2011; UK: 3 May 2011)

A mixed bag of freaky folk-rock

The Habit are a thrashy folk outfit that plays a skewed version of what might be described as Americana. The lead tune on the band’s third full-length, Lincoln has Won, is called “War Is Done” and it’s a celebration of the end of the Civil War. Against a frenzied bed of acoustic and electric guitars, percussion and harmonica, Siobhan Glennon’s wavering voice carries equal measures of exhaustion and joy. Further tunes follow suit, undermining the traditional idea of what “folk music” ought to convey. “Not Brooklyn” offers a brooding bass line and a strangely euphoric melody, while “Won’t Go Home Til Morning” chants its repetitive chorus in an almost shamanistic fashion, to the accompaniment of a shuffling rhythm and squalling harp.


After these three of the first four songs, promising as they are, the band is unable to maintain the quality. Melodies and arrangements become less memorable as the album wears on, becoming hopelessly marred by the histrionic shriek-singing of tunes like “Don’t Grow Old Young Man” and “Pennies For Eyes”. Unlike, say, Elliot Brood, The Habit hasn’t yet learned how to put together a strong album from start to finish. There’s reason to hope, however, given the talent and passion on display here.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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