Misadventures in Radiology
Andrew Morgan’s press release makes a large point of the sort-lived tutelage Morgan received from Elliott Smith. Any reviewer who listens to Misadventures in Radiology and doesn’t spot the lineage between Smith’s orchestral pop turn on Figure 8 — to say nothing of the identical breathy, emotional vocal delivery — should retire their ears immediately. This disc is more than straight Smith-derivation, but tends to fall into previous-track-redux mode much too easily, where the same mid-tempo strum manifests itself in the background, for similar sounding strings to soar over. Admittedly, it’s a gorgeous arrangement, but one of the biggest selling points of orch-pop is the idea that every instrument falling vaguely under the umbrella of “musical” is capable of being worked into the mix. Repetition and boredom should never be an option. Sure, the chiming bells on the coda of “Shoulder Your Shovels,” the glockenspiel-laced verses on “Plight of an Exile” and the accordion intro to “Supine on the Covers” are great moments, but the tally of ungarnished movements far outweigh these. Maybe it’s the result of coming in the wake of Sufjan Stevens’s and The Decemberists’ rise to the top of the genre, but those acts have Morgan beat on musical breadth and enjoyablity. He bests them in elegance, but when’s the last time you listened to an album based on that?
Sonic Boom: www.sonicboomrecordings.com