Aloha Some Echoes

[Polyvinyl; 2006]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: indie rock, indie-prog, elegiac pop, lite-FM
Others: AM/FM, Mercury Program, Tortoise, The Rhythm of Black Lines

Four LPs deep into their career, Aloha have tried more than a few things on their audiences. From a relatively stable outfit based largely out of northeast Ohio to their current incarnation as a Postal Service-esque long-distance project, the band's musical focus has developed an inverse relationship to the geographic concentration of Aloha's members. The band's first full-length, 2000's That's Your Fire, was a hazy mess of an album, with near-constant waves of vibraphone as the central sound. Singer/guitarist Tony Cavallario's high voice fought to be heard over the watercolored din, and though there weren't many memorable melodies to be found, "that band with the vibraphone" was arresting enough live for this writer to pick up both That's Your Fire and some of the band's sweet DIY merchandise.

Since then, Aloha have reined in the vibraphone — it's certainly in the reserves on Some Echoes and has been receding into the background since the fine sophomore record Sugar. Some Echoes is a similar creature to 2004's Here Comes Everyone, but, surprise, surprise, Aloha sound more like Genesis than ever. Always prog-friendly, the extended, jammy interludes of their debut have been replaced by fey, bouncy pop. Something's still strange here — when the processed guitar solo of "Between the Walls" kicks in, you could swear you're listening to something from 1983. When the next song, "Come Home," begins with syrupy synthesizers, it's clear that Aloha have their sights set on mining musical ground I'll admit I thought was going appropriately ignored. They're doing this pretty damn well, mind you, but doesn't this sort of thing strike most people as overwrought? I'll admit, I preferred the dreamier, if less focused, Aloha. You wanna know what this sounds like? Read the press release: "Memories reflected through the lens of music, elusive moments preserved in sound." Keep on livin' that Technicolor dream, cowboy.

1. Brace Your Face
2. Big Morning
3. Your Eyes
4. Ice Storming
5. Between the Walls
6. Come Home
7. Weekend
8. Summer Lawn
9. If I Lie Down
10. Mountain