Engine Down Engine Down

[Lookout!; 2004]

Styles: indie rock
Others: Drive Like Jehu, Sleepytime Trio, Weak Link Breaks, Bughummer

Engine Down's self-titled fourth record marks the end of a three-album relationship with Lovitt Records and the beginning of a new one with west coast giant Lookout! Records. (Don't worry, this implies no switching of alliances for Engine Down -- i.e. no gang wars with the Dismemberment Plan.) Though I'm no firm believer in the "obscure band you loved + signing to a bigger label = OMG, they totally sold out" nonsense, it's somewhat coincidental that, to this Engine Down lover, this release offers several tracks that seem out of their normal range. This is not a condemnation, but merely an expression of my surprise at how much more upbeat the rhythms are and how much longer the record lasts compared to their previous works.

Thankfully, the Engine Down sound that I've loved for only a few years is still behind this pop injection. This is clearly evident in such tracks as "And Done," "Control," and the build-up song "In Turn." Since I'm no musician myself, I find it easiest to comment on a band's drumming rather than guitar work, which seems infinitely more complex; and concerning this album, Cornbread shines as always with fitting fillers and unseemly beats. Lyrically, Keeley's writing still maintains its detached, vague feel.

However, sorely missed from this album and perhaps all future Engine Down releases are the vocals of bassist Jason Wood and backing guitarist Jonathan Fuller. Jason shows up performing a small, quiet screaming part at one point, but has no prominence as a lead singer on any  of the songs. One should not expect this though, as both were absent vocally from their previous album, Demure; but that doesn't mean this reviewer can't yearn!

In the end, however, Engine Down's first release on Lookout! is definitely a worthwhile buy for those new to Engine Down and certainly must hold a place in any Engine Down fan's CD book, iPod, or whatever it may be. I can't wait to get the real thing myself so I can see this alleged tour/backstage footage video that's not included on the promo. As usual, you can expect the band to tour extensively in support of the album. So go see 'em, and don't confuse the merch guy for Jonathan!

1. Rogue
2. And Done
3. Control Group
4. Cover
5. In Turn
6. Long Time Waiting
7. Too Much Of A Good Thing
8. 101
9. The Walk In
10. Standby
11. Well Read
12. Etcetera

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