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American Analog Set - Promise Of Love

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Artist: American Analog Set

Album: Promise Of Love

Label: Tigerstyle

Review date: Jul. 8, 2003

Promises, Promises

If you haven’t traded in your last few Elliot Smith CDs yet, do so, and direct the proceeds toward a copy of American Analog Set’s The Golden Band. It marks AAS’ conversion from slo-glo semi-psych ambience to uneasy, reflective, beautiful guitar pop, just when one could conclude that guitar pop had run out of things to say about human frailty and started celebrating wimpiness. “A Good Friend Is Always Around” is the best thing Mark Kozelek never wrote.

Steer clear of Promise Of Love, tho’. While the new alb drops a few hints at the sort of transcendent bliss the Set used to deliver, it’s mostly sloppy brooding for introverted second-year freshmen who have yet to break the shrink-wrap on the Velvets box.

Maybe we just caught ‘em on another half-assed day.

Things start off fairly well. “Continuous Hit Music” and “Come Home Baby Julie Come Home” exude the subliminal warmth we expect from American Analog Set. But they’re flawed, and not endearingly flawed. They chug when they should sway. They blink when they should glow. Unlike the earlier Set records, they sound like indie rock. Like… well, like MOST indie rock, the melodies are antsy, underfed snow leopards pacing ’round the zoos of the music’s awkward ethos. Only the dry ice rises above the ceiling.

So the new album never really soars. And, considering its brevity, its dips are less than excusable.

Promise Of Love would be a good joint, by indie rock standards, if the passive-aggressive everyschmuck ex-girlfriend mixed-tape staples on the latter half didn’t suck so badly. “Promise of Love” and “The Hatist” sound about as relaxing as hackeysacks thumping against hormone-stained dorm room walls, and their lyrics focus too specifically on broken relationships (where the songs on The Golden Band seemed more concerned with feelings of loss and vulnerability in general).

Then you get “Fool Around,” which is underwritten new wave, which is STILL neutered bubblepunk. I’ll bet you money you wrote and performed something better than “Fool Around” before graduating high school.

“Modern Drummer” is a nice, ambitious closer for a disposable record, number two in a losing streak for an outfit that… still has promise, and still might put out a great album. I wonder if American Analog Set hasn’t simply been keeping bad company. It seems to have caught the same head cold that’s infected all its Barlow-indebted contemporaries.

But swab your ears and hear this, cuz: If this sort of thing butters your bread, you ain’t too cool to “get into” the slow songs on Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.

By Emerson Dameron

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