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Elizabeth & the Catapult: Taller Children

Elizabeth & the Catapult
Taller Children
Verve Forecast
2009-06-09

Taller Children opens with the breezily saucy “Momma’s Boy”. The first minute of the song reveals much about the album’s rollicking guitar riffs, bouncy melodies, and easy delivery. “If you want a girl to be your mother / Go find another”, Elizabeth sings over an acoustic guitar and distorted backing beats. As this song proves right out of the gate, this is a band that’s best at cute, quirky, up-tempo songs.

The second (and title) track is cute, but perhaps too cute at times. “We’re all just taller children”, is the repeated lyric, but the point gets across pretty quickly. That said, this is a nice treat to include on a mix. That said, the song’s bridge gets a bit preachy in delivering the hackneyed message that there should be more work to life than work and money.

“Race You” is the song where all the elements come together well. The melody is infectious and the delivery is a perfect match of form and content, the song itself a playful race. It’s so carefree that it never gets too cute or precious.

One downside to so much cuteness is that the more somber numbers on the album just aren’t quite as good. “Rainiest Day of Summer” is a pleasant ballad, but the other tracks that attempt more seriousness are less successful. “Apathy”, featuring the refrain “Oh apathy / Don’t patronize me”, is weak despite some lovely backing violins. “The Hang Up” is a run-of-the-mill relationship song that doesn’t bring much new to the subject of love: “At this moment I’d rather be thinking just about anything than about how to believe you”. The music doesn’t augment the mediocrity of the lyrics enough to make the song transcend lyrics like “True love comes and goes”. Moreover, the delivery is bland and unconvincing, lacking angst or sadness altogether. This holds true on “Hit the Wall”, as well, though that’s a more up-tempo number than “The Hang Up” or “Apathy”.

On the other hand, the cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” is a surprisingly nice treat. It begins with a swell of violins and then warps into perhaps the best delivery on the album, sung with the right amount of fatalism and acceptance.

RATING 5 / 10
PopMatters