Release Date: Oct 26, 10
There are a lot of things I love about the Midwest—the good food, the relatively nice people, the fact that there are often four distinct seasons to experience, and the music scene. However, every so often the music scene doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. Enter husband&wife, a decent enough Bloomington, IN-based band. Like any good Midwestern band, they’re straightforward in their attempts to be indie rockers. As a result of some non-cohesive elements though, they fail to actually put forth that sound.
I’m sure you can tell that I’ve got surprisingly non-straightforward feelings about Proud Flesh. For the first time in a long time, I’m connecting far more to the instrumental aspect of the band than to the lyrics and vocals. For lack of a better term, most of the lyrical songwriting on this album is clunky. Many of the tracks could use…well…more words, given the lead singer’s tendency to sing one word for a prolonged amount of time over several notes. It’s not the best sound.
The awkwardness that I’m detecting in the instrumental/vocal relationship becomes more defined by the second song on the album (yeah, it doesn’t take long). From the awesome electric guitar riff and percussion that starts the track, it sounds like this is going to be an entertaining track. But then the vocals begin, and the song just gets boring. The vocals basically hold the song back and keep it from going anywhere great.
In another case of “Great job, band! Less than great job, singer”, the title track has one of the most interesting intros on the entire album. It’s a very simple, tribal-sounding drum beat, with a minimalist electronic organ and guitar addition. And then that darn singer just has to join in and ruin their fun! It just sounds like the rest of the band has been playing together for a long time, and the lead singer was a last-minute replacement. However, even less-than-stellar vocals can’t ruin the rollicking chorus when the little organ player gets all energized and breathes some kitschy life into the track.
The three middle tracks of the album (starting with “6 Little Indians” and ending with “Extendo Jam”) should just be skipped. The first two tracks sound like they are little being pulled along by a greater power, and while “Extendo Jam” features a nice amount of extended jamming, it’s certainly nothing to write home about lyrically.
What gives me hope for future albums from this crew is the final track, “Class War.” Finally, we have a cohesive track! There’s a great balance between the singer and the rest of the band, and the chorus features some pretty sleek lyrics and instrumental involvement. It proves that yes, they can inhabit the indie rock sound that they’ve been trying very hard to access for the entire album.