Built Like Alaska: In Troubled Times

Jedd Beaudoin

Troubled times here make for so-so music.

Built Like Alaska

In Troubled Times

Label: Future Farmer
US Release Date: 2011-11-08
UK Release Date: 2011-11-08

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.


James Baldwin Matters

There's a reason why Ta-Nehesi Coates is often compared to James Baldwin, and there's a reason why Baldwin's work is so relevant in the age of Black Lives Matter.

Pop Ten
Collapse Expand Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.