Signal to Trust Golden Armour

[Modern Radio; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: math-rock, post-punk, cerebro-rock
Others: The Dismemberment Plan, Medications, Sonic Youth

I’m not from the Minneapolis area, but Twin Cities band Signal to Trust has something quintessentially local about them. I mean this in two senses, neither wholly negative: first, the band’s touchstones are so obvious that they’d be logical openers for any of them: Slint, The Dismemberment Plan circa Change, Sonic Youth, and Wire. Second, Signal to Trust have the lovable flaws of local bands: a handful of great songs, but never getting it exactly right.

On Golden Armour (do Minnesotans spell like Canadians?), Signal to Trust dig themselves out of the early hole of the bloodless opener “A Young Girl’s Heart is Broken in the Future” with the satisfying SY freakout “The Herald.” Singer and principal songwriter Brian Severns has a take-it-or-leave-it nasal, white-dude voice, and although he’s generally okay on most of the songs, he occasionally gets overambitious and ends up outright squealing; it ain’t pretty. StT’s decision to fill their tunes with plenty of instrumental breathing room is a good one, as it provides for a needed respite at the end of “Fleets at Jutland Bank” and in the verses of “Brasilou Offensive.”

As nice as the instrumental passages are, one wonders if Golden Armour would benefit from a little Albinification to give the band more of an edge; when you’ve got to work with thin, brainy vocals like these, sometimes the way to go is all-out. The chipper “Silver Coast” blows by happily, but it’s victim to a brutally unimaginative instrumental bridge that kills all its momentum. To boot, “Silver Coast” renders its follower, “Now the Mouse is Freezing,” hilarious in its grim Slintiness. The rest of the record’s second half is solid, with the exception of the group-sing misstep “Now We Got What You Got,” and coupled with lovely packaging, Golden Armour is exactly what it appears: a decent record from a good local band.

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