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  Tomorrow Waits  
  Silent Kids  
  2 Sheds  
Release Date:
  early 2003  
Reviewed by:

Iíve been holding onto the new release by Atlantaís Silent Kids for a few weeks now. Every time I sit down and try to write this review, I canít quite bring myself to do it. Itís not that the albumís bad (or even mediocre); in fact, itís rather good. However, I donít feel like Iíve been able to do it justice.

Matters came to a head the other day. Being as how itís April and all, I decided to clean my house. When I clean, I listen to music. So I popped some CDs (The Deathray Davies, The Possibilities, The Rock*a*teens, The Kiss Offs, and Silent Kids) into the stereo, pushed random, and began mopping. After a few times around, however, I had to take off Silent Kids and replace them with Superchunk. I wondered why.

Then, in mid-cleaning, I understood. My issue with Silent Kids isnít with the music; rather, the problems Iím having are related to the fact that every spring I find myself looking for some new record to represent my impression of what the season should be like. And Tomorrow Waits isnít spring-like in the least. Instead, the albums vaguely psychedelic, distortion-based guitarwork and complex instrumental interactions invoke the isolated darkness of winter.

From this description, you might think Tomorrow Waits is a depressing album. On the contrary, overall the 3 piece Silent Kids (theyíve since expanded their line-up for live shows) have a knack for creating slightly dreamy, pop tunes that are enhanced by occasional catchy keyboard riffs. More dreamy and imaginative than depressing, really.

For example, the first song, Drift Into the Summer, reminds me of little of Built to Spill, especially in the the quick guitarwork of vocalist Michael Oakley. However, unlike that other band, Silent Kids layer on extra keyboards, which divert my attention and draw my focus. Instead of singing along actively, Iím drawn into listening more passively and paying attention to what the band is doing.

Likewise, Bering Sea is a nice little pop song with strong guitars and a keyboard bit that reminds me of Ladybug Transistor (circa The Albemarle Sound). In particular, I like how the band takes two tempos and overlays them at certain times. This complexity enhances the song, although it does pull my focus away from the main melody. Similarly, the title track from the album consists of a verse/chorus structure that seems to be almost two different songs. The verse section begins with enough echo and slow guitars to satisfy a reverb fan like me, but from there it moves into a slightly trippy, but exceedingly catchy, chorus with a simple keyboard part that could almost be from some early 70s hard rock band. Nevertheless, the song works, despite of (or perhaps because of) the massive shift in tone that occurs throughout.

As you may notice from the above, I talk a lot about the keyboard work on this album. While I think overall it works in the context of the Silent Kidsí music, it also provides the biggest drawback of the album. Put simply: the keys are mixed way too upfront most of the time. As an example, in the first song I mentioned, Drift Into the Summer, the keyboards are very catchy. However, they end up being way too loud, so that my focus is drawn entirely to them to the exclusion of all else. More importantly, the song whose underlying construction I like the most, Miami, begins with a sample which for some reason (perhaps the tone) annoys me to no end. In fact, it begins a good 30 seconds before the guitars and last for about another minute before it leaves the scene. And while the rest of Miami is great, that sample just leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that I donít want to finish the song. Finally, like other semi-psychedelic bands (say, perhaps, The Eskimos?), Silent Kids seem to think that extraneous keyboard effects and samples are a good thing. This is most evident on the instrumental tracks from the album. However it also shows up on the title track, which ends with an extended dose of noise and keyboard burbling.

In the end, the complexity of Tomorrow Waits works against my enjoyment of the album. At this time of the year, Iím tired of being curled up under a blanket, listening to and focusing on music. I want to bounce around and sing and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Still, despite my own misgivings, I think this is very solid album. Clearly the band knows how to write a catchy tune, and clearly they have the talent to execute it. Furthermore, I understand that my issues with the mix and the keyboards are a personal preference, which shouldnít be a drawback to people who like that kind of music, and therefore, Iíd recommend this album to such people. For everyone else, Iíd say wait until the weather gets colds again and then give Silent Kids a try.

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