The Sharp Things: Adventurer's Inn

A band at the peak of its career, one which appears to be happily unsatisfied, yet chronically inspired by melancholy.

The Sharp Things

Adventurer's Inn

Label: Dive
US Release Date: 2014-12-02
UK Release Date: Import

I never really liked “chamber pop”. Neither the term, nor its meaning. The very definition of it portrays an ensemble of musicians loosely massed together, each one of them distracted by artistic aspirations that are quite often dissimilar from the common denominator behind their occasional joint effort. Artistically too vague (progressive? pop? songwriter?) and musically plain tedious, this non-genre has plagued the music industry for at least a decade; a time during which I always keep on wondering: would these casual bandmates buy their own album if they had to?

I was looking for a plausible answer when Adventurer’s Inn came through the post the other day. The CD made its way into my stereo almost effortlessly, gracefully smiling at my prejudices as it started to fill the air with the tense first minutes introducing “Everything Breaks”, in which the piano leads the band into the depths of a song. A song. Plain and simple. A tune that flows taking you from Bruce Hornsby (yes, a bit) to the likes of Keane and Elvis Costello, all of this while the piano never changes its path, stubbornly insisting on pretty much the same riff.

My attention is won, and all that raving about unstable music relationships betraying my teenage dream of music bands as a tormented and yet invincible unicum of poètes maudits, minstrelism of death and inspiration of the purest kind. Adventurer’s Inn has a European soul dressed in American clothes; it is the quintessence of both worlds bonded by melody. It is the country swagger of “Love Me Indigo” counterbalanced by a latent taste for britpop and its aesthetics. This latest album is the culmination of a career spanning from 2002’s elegant debut to the band’s toying with pop’s geometries on Green Is Good (2013), which remains their best work to date.

Adventurer’s Inn retains the penchant for catching melodies of their early works (obviously minus the rawness) while at the same time exploring pop in all its forms. Electro (industrial?) deviations on “The Libertine” and “You Know You Want It” clash with the haunting beauty of “Union Chapel” reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s ventures into minimalism. This album has also to be intended as a tribute to the life of long-term music partner Steven Gonzalez, who died in 2013 following an extended battle with cystic fibrosis, and this can be heard in the subtle harmonies discretely adorning this and tunes like “All These Beautiful Faces”.

This record displays a band at the peak of its career, one which appears to be happily unsatisfied, yet chronically inspired by melancholy. There is no clear path to be followed, but the direction founding member Perry Serpa and his comrades have taken is worth a listen. Just make sure you take your time to surrender to the melody. Let the Sharp Things win your attention and the music will take you places.

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