Troubled Hubble Making Beds in a Burning House

[Lookout!; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: quirk rock
Others: Built to Spill, R.E.M., They Might Be Giants, Der Dismemberment Plan

Something must be said about Making Beds in a Burning House, that I was able to come back and enjoy it. I'm extremely apprehensive about happy rock albums. I want my rock original, arty, and, at least to some extent, forlorn. Happy rock rarely seems to do any of those things exceptionally well, especially nowadays.

With rather jubilant vocals placed atop the mid-pace strumming of an upbeat electric guitar and tagalong acoustic, the album's opener, along with its title, "14,000 Things to Be Happy About," is almost immediately dislikable. The first minute of this album meanders dangerously close to just about everything there is to hate about the now popularized sound, which has been pilfered from indie rock and college radio, in the effort of tapping the demographic. However, to Troubled Hubble's credit, this is the low point of the affair. As the song progresses, along with the album as a whole, Troubled Hubble nixes comparisons to hucksters and third rate vocalists, shows why Lookout! took notice, and steps into an immaculate Built to Spill knockoff, which is safe, inviting, and inspired rather than misappropriated.

Tracks such as "Safe & Sound," "Even Marathon Runners Need to Nap," and "Floribraska" lend themselves to the more creative side of things, while the tracks "To Be Alive and Alone," "Bees," and "Jackpot Stampede Deluxe" afford Troubled Hubble the safety of a widely acceptable sound. "Ear Nose & Throat" could be to Troubled Hubble what that one end of the world song was to R.E.M., but then you realize they're talking about how shitty things are here, how great Canada is, and have to figure a pro-Canada message like that would never get any airplay. Bully for Troubled Hubble anyway.

Usually, analogous comparisons to similar artists come with crossed arms and a shake of the head. Troubled Hubble, however, has taken the tone of Built to Spill, pepped things up a bit, given more liberty to the bass, and traded expanse for direction, creating a sound which, though not altogether original, is still, somehow, their own. That "I'm Pretty Sure I can See Molecules" song is still pretty fucking annoying though.

1. 14,000 Things to Be Happy About
2. Bees
3. I'm Pretty Sure I Can See Molecules
4. Safe & Sound
5. To Be Alive and Alone
6. Ear Nose & Throat
7. Ear Nose & Throat Pt II
8. Even Marathon Runners Need to Nap
9. Floribraska
10. The Do that Build the House
11. Get Lost
12. Jackpot Stampede Deluxe
13. Nancy (Bonus Track)