Built Like Alaska

In Troubled Times

by Jedd Beaudoin

9 November 2011

cover art

Built Like Alaska

In Troubled Times

(Future Farmer)
US: 8 Nov 2011
UK: 8 Nov 2011

The third release from this California quintet had an apparently difficult gestation period, hence the title. While hard times can sometimes inspire great art, here they appear to have inspired fairly standard fare – most of the songs are built upon beds of spacey, acoustic-driven vibes, layered with ethereal vocals that somehow manage to make each track sound cheerier than it really is. (A quick glance at the lyric sheet reveals more than a passing acquaintance with loneliness and frustration.) The opening “Union Song” and its successor, “Antique Love”, are among several songs at the front end of the album that have the listener believing that this may be a walloping artistic success despite its apparent familiarity. Problem is, somewhere around the middle of the record, the thread gets lost and the record devolves into a sad sameness in which the listener forgets many of those upstanding moments at the front.

In Troubled Times



We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times.

//Mixed media

Counterbalance: Elvis Costello's 'Imperial Bedroom'

// Sound Affects

"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats. Keep your finger on important issues, and keep listening to the 275th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1982 masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.

READ the article