Think About Life
Think About Life
2006
B



by now, mixing experimental breakdowns with straightforward pop is barely noteworthy as an aesthetic, but few groups do it as fluidly as Think About Life. The group doesn't go in for "deconstructing" pop (assuming that term has any meaning left); nor do they juxtapose traditional song structures with avant explorations. Instead, the band creates compositions that come unglued and reassemble before you can even notice what's going on.

Think About Life's key moment comes when "Bastian and the Boar" moves into "Commander Riker's Party." "Bastian" has a dancing pop groove to it, which the drums of "Commander" maintains even as the keyboards turn into a smear of noise. While Martin Cesar forces out effects-heavy vocals, the music offers a series of melodic lines giving way to dissolutions of coherence. The effect isn't as jarring as you might expect; instead it turns into a flowing number that becomes more danceable as the chaos grows. For all the grit in the actual sounds, the music remains very fluid.

That smoothness organizes the album. The disc spans a wide continuum: from pop hooks to complete abstraction—yet the center holds. In fact, that variance forms the center: Think About Life's music relies on their ability to use various musical lenses to insist upon the dance-focused nature of their songs. The band plays to the dance beats most directly on "Serious Chords," where they fuzz up a house beat with the album's highest BPM. The track wants the blue-lit sweat of a club, yet the vocals and keys tone come from a rougher indie origin.

The next track, "What the Future Might Be" turns to rap for vocals even as the music stays with a dance-rock sound. Rather than using crisp house or hip-hop production, the group mixes the backing tracks in a layer of mud. The resulting imbalance leaves with only one place to turn: dancing. You won't sing along, you won't pick out production subtleties, but you will have to move.

The album's two slower tracks serve to exaggerate that effect. "Slow-Motion Slam Dunk from the Free-Throw Line" is a short vamp on an almost-piano setting. Its simple sound and basic structure means its time to finish your drink before the finale. The beat immediately picks up on the next track, and the keys take off on little runs and hanging chords. The aesthetic effect works well, but ending here doesn't do the album justice—it lacks the intensity of some of the album's earlier numbers.

The disc's middle track, "Money" also marks a slow down, as some cymbal tinkling gives way to a medium-speed arpeggio. The song builds tactfully into a dance-rock number, then stops for a few acappella bars before the keys come back in with a very traditional sound. After a brief run, the song closes with a satisfying cymbal lead, returning the group to its beginning after a gradual slide. It's chaotic, varied, and structured, but moves so easily that you might not realize it, and that's exactly what makes this album so fun.


Reviewed by: Justin Cober-Lake
Reviewed on: 2006-05-17
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