I did not enjoy this release nearly as much as I had hoped. “Is the problem me or the music?” I wondered. Vermont being comprised of two members of The Promise Ring (singer Davey von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier) and the guitarist for Pele (Chris Roseanau), they seemed to have all the promise that those musicians would bring to any project. Yet, the magic I expected to hear when I threw this disc on never materialized. Sure, a few tracks really shone, like “Ballad of Larry Bird,” but that merely sounded like an outtake of a Promise Ring song. Part of the problem lies in the turn the music has taken. Abandoning the power and energy of their respective groups and resorting to acoustic music and sparse arrangements places the emphasis squarely on the lyrics and the melodies. A burden, despite their many talents, they are often unable to shoulder. While some reviewers have noted the similarity between Vermont and bands such as Red House Painters or American Music Club, these comparisons are superficial and dishonest. Red House Painters and American Music Club wrote exceptionally literate and moving songs that flirted with many different acoustic styles, but the subject matter was entirely different. Their songs explored the dark side of the human psyche as it came perilously close to dissolution in the face of mental illness, substance abuse and death. Vermont clearly does not share these concerns. For what it’s worth, Vermont is capable of some shining moments. The previously mentioned “Ballad of Larry Bird” is one example, and another track, “Hello Goodbye Sex” also proves to be a favorite. Vermont clearly excels at those moments when it integrates the lyrical themes that obsess von Bohlen (unrequited love) and aims for a clean musical delivery.
Kindercore Records: http://www.kindercore.com