[20 July 2011]
Robotanists’ latest album Plans in Progress is such a professional-sounding thing that it’s tempting to recommend it based merely on the expert production and instrumental proficiency. Everything’s in tune, Sarah Ellquist’s vocals are a lovely mix of soothing and intense, each song is a self-contained epic-sounding little thing, and it’s surprisingly concise at a mere seven songs. The problem is, there are no real hooks, there is no true emotional handle to grab onto, there is no visceral connection to be found. By the time the fifth song hits, the fourth has been forgotten. To describe the album is an objective exercise, because it simply does not inspire the subjective. It comes closest on two songs seemingly inspired by air travel, “Terminal A” and “Luggage vs. Baggage”, songs that are pretty little things with longing in their lyrics and languor in their melodies, but even these won’t inspire singalongs or wind up on mixtapes. Perhaps this is to be expected from a band whose most famous moment so far is their reproduction of Radiohead’s The King of Limbs a mere day after Radiohead’s release of the album; perhaps music for the sake of music just isn’t enough.