The Timeout Drawer Nowonmai

[Consumers Research and Development; 2006]

Styles: digital-age post-rock with a good measure of organic elements and prog
Others: Mogwai, GY!BE, Do Make Say Think, Múm, Port-Royal, M83

The Timeout Drawer prove once and for all that it's very difficult to quantify what makes some post-rock worthwhile and some post-rock doomed to the crudheap. Listening to Nowonmai will bring out the kid in you, to be sure [Q: "Why is it marginally better than other post-rock albums?" A: "I dunno... it just IS, stupid-head"), its milky synth lines sounding like the keyboard solo from "Tom Sawyer" cryogenically frozen and shattered into a thrillion pieces.

We've heard most of these moves before; the quick-picked guitar drubbing of "Bursting With Tears, I Commit to Destroying You" is the equivalent to post-rock's Hot Lunch (messy but inspired), the tired Tristeza noodling of "There is So Much Love" its Glass-Bottom Boat (boring but seemingly desirable to first-timers). The Timeout Drawer have absolutely nothing new to teach us, so their chi must be measured by their ability to make imitation imaginative in some small way.

This the trio achieves. From its absolutely amazing artwork to its all-encompassing mood cycle, Nowonmai tightropes the harrowing line between atmospheric texture and gritty guitar rock skillfully if not spectacularly. You won't rush out to tell your friends about its life-affirming lilt, but you won't be trash-talking about its lollygagging sloth, either.

A little imagination would have gone a long way, however. Despite the feeling that they're willing to try just about anything they can to flip the script, from cascades of trumpet to digital whirs, The Timeout Drawer still don't register as innovative or refreshing when juxtaposed with the painfully similar work of Mogwai, Saxon Shore, and even relative old tymers like Pell Mell (reviewers don't reference Star City enough, mind you). This isn't guilt by association; this is purely guilt by proliferation, as The Drawer must pay their penance for knowing darn well the overabundance of post-rock and stubbornly saying "Me thirty." Nowonmai is recommended to those unscarred by the rigors of repetition only, whether musical or genre-centered.

1. I Fall So Far and I Fall So High
2. Bursting with Tears, I Commit to Destroying You
3. There Is So Much Love
4. This Narrow Room Is World Enough
5. Nothing Can Stop Me
6. Blue Eyes and Filled with Horror
7. Take a Look at Me Now
8. What Looked Like Morning Was the Beginning of Endless Night

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