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Heavy Blinkers - The Night and I are Still So Young

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Artist: Heavy Blinkers

Album: The Night and I are Still So Young

Label: Cookin' Vinyl

Review date: Jul. 18, 2006

When walking past the ornate churches in Manhattan, I tend to run that old saw through my mind: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” In so many ways, in so many facets of life, this catchy bit of cynicism rings true – but not when it comes to the Heavy Blinkers. The key word when describing this Canadian group's fourth album, The Night and I Are Still So Young, is detail. This quintet has got enough of it to build five churches in Brooklyn and two in Manhattan.

Like a church's heavenly spires, songwriter Jason MacIssac points his symphonies upward, directly referencing the spiritual on "Gentle Strength" and "He Heard His Song." Taken out of context, lyrics like "I looked to the sky / I prayed to the stars / that you might reveal who you are" might even pass for worship music. A deeper read, however, reveals a river of melancholy running through songs like the title track, a standout that places MacIssac's spirituality in more uncertain terms as he openly acknowledges the hardships that threaten to erode faith and hope.

As intriguing as MacIssac's lyrics are, words are just one of his many tools. Across the disc's 12 songs, MacIssac uses instrumentation like a painter uses color: a splash here, a repeating form there, all in the name of the bigger picture. The result is a uniformly gorgeous album that bring to mind the baroque pop of '60s studio bands like the Left Banke and the Sagittarius.

But there’s one problem. In the end, The Night and I are Still So Young may be too ornate for its own good. MacIssac's glossy production tends to push the listener out, encouraging appreciation from a distance rather than from within. This is the danger when artists hide their faults; by making them prettier, it also makes them harder to love.

By Mark Griffey

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