Last Days of April
Ascend to the Stars
The band that everyone loves to love, Last Days of April, has just released their fourth full-length (they hopped from Deep Elm to Crank! for this, the second of their albums to receive worldwide distribution) — and yes, it’s really good. As if you had to ask.
A couple of things to note: first off, LDOA aren’t an emo band any more. Or, they are, but in an indie-pop, garage-rock kind of way. In comparison to Angel Youth, Ascend to the Stars is mellower and more grown up. The main problem with this newfound maturity is the uneasy familiarity it brings with it on first listen. At times, the band sounds almost exactly like Placebo (in Placebo’s rare moments of tolerability) — at others, early Smashing Pumpkins. The degree to which Last Days of April manages to morph into any number of groups at the drop of a track is almost alarming. This is a highly enjoyable ride, but one whose overt influences (somehow more pronounced than on the group’s earlier work) may throw you. Perseverance is an amazing thing, though — you’ll have forgotten that this band is anything but completely groundbreaking after a few spins (and, to be fair, the Brian Molko-esque vocals are more a by-product of Sweden, the band’s home, than they are of an unhealthy Placebo fetish. At least, I think so).
The second point is this: when Last Days of April are good, they’re really good. Witness “Piano,” a quirky, programmed number that oozes shy uncertainty like the best of its alterno-pop peers; or the gorgeous summertime butterflies-in-the-tummy of “I’m Calm Now.” Both tracks boast colourful yet simply instrumental backing, a major clincher in LDOA’s battle for indie supremacy. When it comes down to it, Ascend is a damn good set of songs. It won’t redefine the shape of modern music, but then again, neither will Placebo, and I know which band I’d rather be listening to.
Crank! Records: http://www.crankthis.com/