The Race If You Can

[Flameshovel; 2004]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: indie rock, electronic-acoustic slowcore
Others: Radiohead, the Postal Service

The mood a listener is in when they hear a piece of music can greatly alter the affect the music has on them. That being said, I was in a dandy chipper mood when I first listened to If You Can, The Race's latest release. This half hour album of nine gloomy sputtering tracks was produced by acclaimed blip-bloop-blop duo Telefon Tel Aviv -- throwing electronics up against acoustics like so many bands feel is best nowadays. Since I was in such a good mood upon first listen, I immediately felt like I was the victim of someone trying to drag me down into a deep depression. Lo and behold, no clouds were outside the house and my dog didn't get hit by a car that morning -- so it wasn't appearing to be a grand revelatory listening experience.

Down-tempo, subtle, glum-sugarplum music certainly has its place. Everyone knows the power such an album can have on a person when their personal mood mirrors the music's. The sad sulky music can actually provide a reversal of sorts, having the listener in good spirits of hopefulness by the album's conclusion. I find this isn't the case with If You Can.

Craig Klein's Thom Yorke-ish melancholy howl slowly lulls the listener along. The song structures seem to lack a necessary "oomph" that could propel them to intrigue. There are a few moments here that do provide a spark, such as the build-up of the title track and the fast-talk vocal delivery that arrives near the end of "The Hours Eat the Flowers."

Perhaps The Race's melancholy musical diatribes will hit me at some point in the future. For now though, the songs are just downers, and I don't want to be down. They don't supply the emotional connection that an album like this must necessarily achieve.

1. If You Can
2. Safe and Sound
3. Can Get Home
4. Rose
5. Ark Again
6. Sinking Feeling
7. The Hours Eat the Flowers
8. Seed
9. Out Like A Lamb