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Timonium - Until He Finds Us

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Artist: Timonium

Album: Until He Finds Us

Label: Pehr

Review date: Aug. 17, 2003

Getting Lost is the Easy Part

Until He Finds Us, much like its predecessor Resist Education, is melancholic, sedate music along the lines of Low and Codeine. It has the patience of post-rock and the labored hush of slowcore, the fits of emotion buried under layers of nonchalant repetition. The guitars are electrified but otherwise unfurnished, the bass and brushed drums low and rumbling and never too prominent. The vocals, alternately male and female, are almost as reserved, intoning depressing lyrics in deadpan, which generally blends in too well to be understood. Only during the climaxes, when those reservoirs of emotion are released, do we get a gratifying change from what rapidly comes to feel like impotent tension, a glimpse of distortion or the decisive backbone of sticks and snares. Perhaps the ample quiet is meant to heighten the occasional loud, but such tactics land Timonium on the thin line between unexcitable and unexciting, and have a great deal to do with why it takes such effort to stick with them for a whole song, let alone a whole album.

While the abundant buildup can be satisfying, the breakdowns are the really compelling element, and at least one admirable one occurs in nearly every song. Still, after a dozen bursts of cymbal, snare and blunted guitar manifested in the same fashion, the climactic moments can't help but lose some of their power. The best of them, the finally-unrestrained angst toward the end of the album’s conclusion, "The Past Within the Past", even sounds a bit trite after so hearing many others throughout the album: from influences like Codeine and Bedhead to contemporaries Art of Fighting and even Coldplay, Timonium are exploring territory that has been charted both more thoroughly and more convincingly.

The basic problem underlying the album is that it only seems to reward close attention, but that it has a difficult time holding on to it. To a listener lost in the sleepy shuffle of soft guitars and brushed drums, the bursts of energy would be jarring enough to be more than just isolated patches of excitement, but sooner or later the band's patience outlasts mine every time. By the same token, following the lyrics closely enough might both explain and valorize their severity, but the full impact of a refrain like "We are writing this to inform you / That tomorrow we will all be killed / By our families," feels wasted on casual ears. Without a disciplined listen, Until He Finds Us is pretty but repetitive and long-winded, while to an absorbed audience I'm willing to bet that it's intense, uncompromising and unsettling. If you're looking for the latter, I wish you the best of luck.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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Resist Education

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