[19 May 2005]
I have a confession to make, one that may just destroy any credibility I had gained to this point as a music reviewer: I am an OC addict. There, I said it. I’ve been drawn in by the exploits of the pretty people in southern California, plots and subplots straight out of the 90210 handbook, and, perhaps most importantly, music that actually has a chance in hell of being taken seriously by all but the most jaded, elitist viewers. The presence of Modest Mouse as a featured artist on the show was my own tipping point; others surely, have been drawn in by The Killers or the tantalizing “hear it before it comes out!” Beck teaser in mid-March. At the very least, I take some solace in the idea that I know I’m not the only formerly self-respecting soul to fall into the show’s Venus flytrap-like vise grip. We are many, and our numbers for better or worse, are growing.
There is a point to this self-indulgent intro: It was actually with some sense of anticipation and excitement that I listened to The Perishers’ Let it be Morning, for this Swedish act’s American claim to fame is the use of two of their songs on The OC. I mean, when had Ryan, Seth and the rest of the gang ever let me down?
As if to lend just a bit more credibility to the old maxim, “there’s a first time for everything”, Let There Be Morning turns out to be incredibly boring. Given that everyone who has never seen The OC has likely moved on to another review by now, allow me to present to you, remaining readers, a scenario. Think about the end of an episode. Pretty much everything that was going to happen has already happened, and there’s a quiet, plaintive musical selection backing a montage of the characters from that particular show, all of them reflecting upon what took place over the course of the previous hour, trying to carry on with their lives despite the incomprehensible craziness of the world around them. With such a sequence comes an implication of the tenuous grasp most of us have on some sense of normalcy, and it’s usually an effective way to close out the hour—satisfying, if not particularly optimistic.
Now, stretch that montage out over the course of an entire episode and try to tell me you’re not either sleeping or watching something else by the time 10 minutes pass. That’s what listening to Let it be Morning is like.
It is not an offensive album by any means, on the contrary, much of it is very, very nice. This is stuff that mom will like, that you can play at work and nobody will notice. The album cover features various shots of sunsets, clouds, and a lovely horizon, perfectly indicative of the music housed within. You may even find yourself singing along with a few of the songs, as some of them manage to be fairly catchy. It’s near impossible to forget the simple melody lines of “Sway”, swirling in and out of the mix over a piano that’s a vague approximation of Coldplay’s “Clocks” on a Prozac-alcohol cocktail, and the OC-endorsed hit “Trouble Sleeping” manages to bump the tempo from ‘slow’ to ‘medium-slow’, so it’s got that going for it.
Brief high points aside, however, the whole album is just so methodical, deliberate, and homogenous that it’s near impossible to make it through the whole thing (all 40 minutes of it) in one sitting. There are no peaks, no valleys, no reasons to really care. It’s an EKG without a pulse, a straight line of contemplative, cumbersome balladry that never takes off into joy or anger or sinks into pure, unadulterated self-loathing. Just a lot of “I want” and “I would” and “I’m still”. The band veers into genuine emotion on “Pills”, a duet where primary vocalist Ola Klüft is joined by one Sara Isaksson to explain that they “need pills to sleep at night”, but the delivery would be far more effective if they didn’t sound like they were on said pills when they recorded the song.
I don’t doubt that there are people out there who would love Let There Be Morning—it’s consistent, if nothing else. I just need a little plot, a little conflict, and maybe some memorable characters to go with my peaceful, melancholy resolution. Is that so much to ask?