Memphis I Dreamed We Fell Apart

[Paper Bag; 2004]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: electro indie pop
Others: The Postal Service

Memphis is made up of one Chris Dumont and Stars frontman Torquil Campbell. In the band's bio, and noted as well on All Music, Dumont is described as a part-time carousel operator in Central Park. Cute. And if you know anything about Stars, to whose record Heart Memphis is much akin, you'll realize that Campbell's influence, too, belies cuteness. Here I have to stop myself, feeling that I've talked about this band before in the same terms. As a matter of fact, I was given for review a record by the band For Stars (Stars...For Stars...get it?) whose latest yawn was titled the uncannily similar ...It Falls Apart. Can you understand my confusion?

However, while For Stars' record was an unsuccessful attempt to roll Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie into an credible indie pancake, I Dreamed We Fell Apart is more ambitious -- marginally, at least. Now that the Postal Service's surprise crossover success has made the cutesy indie + cutesy electronica blend a hot combo, it's no surprise that Memphis might try the same. However, instead of going the straight ahead pop song route, Dumont and Campbell construct dreamier, more abstract mishmashes of synthesizer and guitar effects with poppy li'l beats. Unfortunately, I Dreamed We Fell Apart straddles the unhappy line between experimental music and very un-experimental lap-pop. "East Van" and "The Nootka Chimes" are pieces of unremarkable sound collage, while "The Second Summer," "For Everyone Eighteen," and "Nada" sound like the cheesiest parts of Stars' music -- vocals processed with a breathy telephone-receiver filter and chiming, loungey, undiscernibly background color. "Nada" features a grating, recurrent saxophone part that will have everyone skipping ahead. A child's voice saying "Sooner or later this happens to everyone. To everyone" introduces "Love Comes Quickly." The sound of rain bookends "On the Last Day of School." These devices are hollow and transparent, and hurt what is otherwise a fair-to-middlin' sort of album.

1. The Second Summer
2. For Anyone Eighteen
3. Into the Wild
4. On the Last Day of School
5. Hey Mister, Are You Awake?
6. East Van
7. The Nootka Chimes
8. Nada
9. Love Comes Quickly
10. Lullaby for a Girl Friend (Or Happy Trails)
11. Voicemail