Schooner You Forget Your Heart

[Pox World Empire; 2004]

Styles: indie pop, folk melancholia
Others: The AM, The Rosebuds, Iron & Wine

Some say you can't go wrong with simplicity. In life and music, simplicity seems to always be a failsafe way of going about things. Whether it's a product of fearfulness, complacency, or discipline, the simple life can achieve great marks; but it can also suffer brutal hardships. Songs can often be judged by their ability to stand strong when stripped of excessive instrumentation; many examples of great song-writing have been proven via this exact method throughout history. Schooner, a band from Raleigh, NC, is spearheaded by Reid Johnson, a man who favors simplicity in his music. Schooner crafts lofty pop tunes that are easily accessible and blissful in all their yearning glory.

With music based mostly on guitar, bass, drums, and keys, Schooner embodies simplicity. Their chord progressions are easy to tag-along with, and an ever-present airy quality allows you to get caught up in a swell of nostalgia. The structure of the songs is rather conventional; Johnson opts not to deviate too far from typical pop song-writing, but his soaring vocals usually keep you coming back. Trouble arrives when this formula becomes boring. This is quite a short album, not even reaching the half hour mark, yet by the fifth or sixth track, you've had your full. The music becomes so rudimentary that it nearly grates. The lyrics also fail to snatch up the listener's attention, resorting to the typical content choices, further emphasizing the monotony of the work.

The album starts off on the right foot with the upbeat "My Friend's Band" and continues to spark interest with "Days Under Cover" and "Trains and Parades." Gleeful handclaps punctuate "We Let the Cat Out" and keep you smiling. Although the album begins surprisingly strong, the music suffers because it has no edge. There's no sense of disruption or spontaneity. Everything seems mapped out and structured so perfectly. You Forget Your Heart turns out to be one of the tidiest indie pop albums ever. Though an over-exertion of experimentation is never a sure shot for success, neither is going with the bare bones approach. There needs to be some semblance of rawness, accidents, or rekindling of old tricks. Perhaps Schooner's next release will be less ho-hum and more attention-molesting. The talent is definitely there for it to happen.

1. My Friend's Band
2. Days Under Cover
3. Trains and Parades
4. We Let the Cat Out
5. Long Long Time
6. Open Door
7. Stunts and Showmanship and Codes
8. This Machine Is Running Out