American Analog Set Set Free

[Arts & Crafts; 2005]

Styles: indie rock, drone pop
Others: Galaxie 500, Stereolab, Her Space Holiday, Bedhead

It's hard to believe that 10 years have passed since the formation of American Analog Set. I think that I'm amazed because their music sounds so delicately made that one stray note or drum hit could shatter one of their songs into thousands of tiny fragments. Obviously this has more to do with my perception as a listener than it does any actual fragility of the band, which has now survived the loss of members, large geographical divides, and moves to different labels -- seemingly no worse for the wear. Set Free finds them working in much the same sonic terrain as on previous releases, but such consistency is a strength. Where else can a weary music lover turn for something as soothing as the AmAnSet's droning pop -- languorous guitars, quivering farfisa, and mellow male vocals held together with persistent, though unobtrusive, drumming? Nestled into the middle section of the album, "Cool Kids Keep" has the band at their most driving, with a poppy but hushed vocal melody repeating throughout. "Sharp Briar" brings the vibraphone to the forefront, instantly making it a favorite of mine. And really, all the songs work well on their own as much as they function together as an album, even the cover version of Codeine's "Jr." Never ratcheted up over a pleasantly throbbing pulse, this is music as anti-depressant, mood enhancer, and muscle relaxant. So, if the stresses of this life have you down, relax, AmAnSet have just the thing to cure your ills.

1. Born on the Cusp
2. Immaculate Heart 1
3. Immaculate Heart 2
4. Cool Kids Keep
5. She's Half
6. Jr
7. Play Hurt
8. (Theme from) Everything Ends
9. Sharp Briar
10. The Green Green Grass
11. First of Four
12. Fuck This...I'm Leaving