On! Air! Library!
On! Air! Library!
here is an undeniable proclivity to mention the fact that two twin sisters make up the majority of On! Air! Library!, but in the end it makes little difference. Alley and Claudia Deheza rarely collude in singing duties, save “Bread”, and as such it’d be rather mendacious to claim that it’s their vocal collaboration that make On! Air! Library!’s debut full length what it is. Instead, the group seems to abjure this particular meme for another, the lissome duo of either sister with the other singing member of the group: Philip Pee Wann. Or, in most cases on the record, the solo vocal efforts of each.
Musically, the group takes apart various aspects of independent rock from the past twenty years. You’ll hear Galaxie500 on “Bread”, a spot of Grandaddy on the technically inclined “Faultered Ego”, and even a vague take on Nick Drake (“Sad Sad Zoo”).
The most immediate track on the disc is the brilliant “Bread”. It’s the group at their most obvious, giving the listener a short riff to hang onto and a blanket of neo-psychedelia to comfort themselves. Despite this, the sisters' sing-songy vocals could make or break the record for most listeners. If you end up liking it well enough to continue, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the album. If you turn the album off quickly after that, you’re probably not missing much that you would deem of interest.
The rest of the record finds the group exploring an enormous range of moods and ideas in the span of twenty three minutes and six songs, a few of which don’t easily conform to normal structures. Some of them work (the slow moving, sample-laden “Spaghetti Western Superstar”) while others flail around, searching for inspiration, and end up just coming off as generally annoying (cf. “Bambalance”).
It’s, for the most part, the more fully formed songs that leave the strongest impression though, perhaps because of the material that surrounds it. It’s obvious that the group can write straight-ahead rock/pop songs, but only chooses to tease the listener with short glimpses of their ability in this regard. Because of this, one wants to like the group for their ability to stretch out and confound expectations. It just makes me want to suggest that this would have made an amazing EP.