…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead So Divided

[Interscope; 2006]

Styles: grand scale indie (in a genre sense, not a label sense) rock
Others: At the Drive-In, Mercury Rev, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

It starts simply enough: a dainty, highbrow wine and cheese banquet, a shindig any Gatsby-type would host. Then the fire breaks out — the whole kitchen staff is smoldering beneath pots and pans. The guests are frantic. Smell that hair? Yeah, the burning hair. It's from the eyebrows of the guests. Hope they didn’t come in on a high horse, or else, well — melted glue. Drop your pretensions, folks. Please! Drop the ellipsis and first seven words of your band name, gentlemen. Please! (Thank you. [They seem to be using the abbreviated “Trail of Dead” more often.])

Interactive reader: pick your adjective. Over-the-top, anthemic, epic. This album here, an album that grew out of an EP, is all of those, so much so that it has a piano. This is Trail of Dead, a band that goes on long after the song should end. It’s one of the band’s drawing points, sure. Doesn’t mean it’s going to work forever, though. Lo---sing---in---ter---est.

“Eight Day Hell” is a humdinger, a standout track putting its foot forward and distinguishing itself from the rest. “Witches Web,” a nice Sea Change-esque tear duct activator, follows “Eight Day Hell” in both sequence and goodness. It lunges forward over the line of scrimmage. Then there’s a damn segue, noted as such in the title of the song, answering the first track’s “intro” status. These are Pink Floyd moments: squiggly little transitions with voice and manic noise. We don’t need them. I guess Jimmy Iovine did, though. The band’s cover of Guided By Voices’ “Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory” is a bi-polar twin of the original. If Robert Pollard were a rich man, this is what his cruddy 4-track version would have sounded like.

After a better second half, the album says so long with an irksome stoner recitation of what could only be shitty poetry. Not a fond farewell, guys. Not a fond farewell at all. Your acclaimed qualities leave me a tad bored. Not bored stiff — just bored stiffening. (Not trying to say the music gives me an erection [TMT boner tally: 8 uses].)

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