Espers - III
Craig Broad 02/11/2009
Wichita Records are well known for signing popular underground bands, that well known in fact that they are perhaps becoming a cult label, with an expectancy following each new release on this label rising and rising until the hype in the indie scene is perhaps unbearable. Bands like Bright Eyes, Bloc Party and Yeah Yeah Yeahs amongst others can be found residing on their books along with the band i'm reviewing today, Philadelphia folk band Espers. III is Espers fourth album, following their last album II that garnered favourable reviews and is the first album to see them venture into officially being a five piece.
First things first, if you literally buy albums just because of the Wichita thing then beware, Espers aren't anything in the ilk of Bloc Party, with III perhaps venturing into the delicate folk stylings of Conor Obersts Bright Eyes work but add a twist which they call psychedelic folk and most of us media types will probably just slot into a nu-folk generalisation. Nothing about Espers will smack you in the face and say listen to me, there are no singles here, just slow burning songs that perhaps wouldn't go a-miss on the Kill Bill soundtrack. III starts off slowly, with "I Can't See Clear", an obvious folk song driven by Meg Bairds bog standardly obvious female vocals underpinned by a guitar melody that is completely begging to be let loose but never really gets the chance. In frank honesty, most of what follows is pretty much the same with the beautiful guitar melodies covering the same ground while the female vocals do their formulaic thing as the lead guitar begs to roar and make the songs actually go further than a place I like to call unmemorable street. There is talent within Espers though and that is showcased through stand out track "Colony", driven by tribal sounding drumming, hammer horror-esque violin melodies and haunting Porcupine Tree sounding vocals. "Colony" is a song that seems to go somewhere and actually make you listen, the only shame is, it is the only track on the album that I actually enjoyed listening to.
I am a folk fan, so it pains me when I listen to something that dresses itself up as something more exciting than it actually is. III is an unmemorable album that delves into the realms of what I'm calling a completely substandard version of The Coral, there are great moments but they are few and far between and this isn't a disc I can recommend anyone into buying.