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Hi Red Center - Architectural Failures

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Artist: Hi Red Center

Album: Architectural Failures

Label: Pangaea

Review date: May. 12, 2006

Hi Red Center make fast, disjointed rock music that prominently features electronics, trombone and vibraphone, but theyíre hardly a typical post-rock or noise-rock group. Sure, their songs dart and dive all over the place, divvying up rhythms in unusual ways and sometimes breaking into bursts of noise. Michael McCurdyís approach to the drums is often similar to that of a toddler playing a game of whack-a-mole. U.S. Maple is a reasonably close reference point for Hi Red Centerís more wild moments.

And yet, Architectural Failures feels like itís a million miles from U.S. Maple. Part of it is that Hi Red Center donít shy away from sunny pop melodies Ė and not only do they not shy away from them, they donít sound like theyíre winking when they use them. Hi Red Center arenít a pop band by any stretch of the imagination, but they donít avoid major keys, either. And the melodicism of their music is enhanced by the vocals Ė ďamateurishĒ isnít the right word to describe them, but thatís getting there. The singing isnít quite recorded right, and while itíd be unfair to say that Ben Lanz, Russell Greenberg and Lawrence Mesich are bad singers, they also have unpolished voices that recall lots of Ď90s lo-fi indie-pop bands that neither you nor I remember.

The result is that Architectural Failures feels less like an art-rock experiment and more like what it would sound like if Mates of State ditched the female singer, added some guitar noise, and played all their songs in odd time signatures. Actually, that would make Mates of State sound pretty different, but thatís kind of the point. Hi Red Center has found a nice balance of pop and noise, but theyíre not particularly close to either pole. Thatís to their credit.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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