Saturday, June 5, 2010

Talking Through Tin Cans Review

Brevity is something that can work both for and against you in the music industry. If done right, it can prove a great deal of how you're able to control your music as an artist; however, if done poorly, it can show a lack of effort and overall laziness. Where is the line drawn for this especially-important aspect of musical structure? Well, it seems that The Morning Benders have found it and house their 2008 release, Talking Through Tin Cans, right on the border. This California based group teeter dangerously between wonderful and chancy with their song structures. While this is a key point of Tin Cans, it is far from being the only noticeable aspect. The Morning Benders offer much to be heard and felt throughout their relatively minuscule debut LP.

Notice how I said "felt" at the end of the above paragraph? Well that's a very important point when it comes to this record. The band provides poppy, catchy rhythms while all the while holding a very real emotional value. This is immediately present on the opening track, Damnit Anna, where we're introduced to the elements prevalent for the remainder of the record -- Heartbreak and confusion. Both of these are displayed rather effectively through lead man Chris Chu's sometimes sporadic vocal work and his especially sincere songwriting. On Crosseyed, Chu sings solemnly, "A crosseyed mess led me from the flames into the dark/Our empty smiles keep us from completely falling apart", giving you a subtle sense of what's really going on in this man's head. He shifts expertly between this confused state to sad and soon enough to bitter. The transitions are wonderfully done and could easily be noted as the album's strongest element.

After noticing the aforementioned strong points of the album, one may sit back and think "Wow that was great! The lyrics felt real and raw, the vocals are really good and the... the... there were other people in the band right?" And therein lies your problem, the music is totally forgettable. Not to say that it's terrible, in fact it's quite good for what it's doing -- But when the album concludes I had difficulty remembering one thing about the music that really caught my attention. Though you must really give them credit for trying, for there is a great deal of diversity when it comes to the music. It always lends itself to the message of the song, but it doesn't strive to do that while also being both interesting and inventive.

Returning the main point of the album, brevity serves its role in both positive and negative aspects here. Take When We're Apart for example. It clocks in at only one minute and thirty-two seconds, but still holds as one of the stronger songs on the album. Now look at Heavy Hearts, clocking in at three minutes and fifty-one seconds, it drags slightly but is still an effective song. It's an interesting contrast as to how music can be structured in order to make an enjoyable listen. The album itself is only barely over the thirty minute mark, making it slightly short in comparison to most current releases. A length such as that can be an absolute disaster if done sloppily, but The Morning Benders prove their worth and make a very effective listen by keeping it short and sweet, but not without packing it with substance.

It takes a subtle and careful hand to craft a brief album with enough substance to pack a punch, and it appears that The Morning Bender possess that particular musical finesse. With their debut LP they show both that they are crafty in their production while also being intelligent in their lyrical trends. The story arch on this record is a really fun experience and if you can catch onto it, you'll be fully satisfied with Talking Through Tin Cans, a great first record by a great new band.

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