First Communion Afterparty: Skyline, Starlight (CD Review)
When First Communion Afterparty first showed up, all rosy-cheeked and full of hot youth, they made a quick name for themselves as remarkably well-informed wunderkinds, rich with hand-me-down '60s sensibilities, whose musical wisdom was decidedly beyond their years. But as time marches on, it doesn't always drag the wisdom with it. On their newest EP, Skyline, Starlight, FCAP's snoozy twinkle has become a rather dreamless sleep, a three-track slumberwalk that, while not unpleasant, leaves you startled at the end and not terribly far from where you started. From opener "Time Between," it's obvious that the band have updated their source material by a few decades—if FCAP spent their larval and pupa stages steeped in their vision of the 1960s, Skyline, Starlight is drenched in the 1990s. Overdriven guitar, jangling at a mid-tempo, hearkens to the relevant works of FCAP's not-too-distant adolescences, a shadowbox of PJ Harveys and Jane's Addictions, to which ooey-gooey, deeply reverberating vocals lend a signature. But by the second track, the formula has worn out its welcome, and it's clear that a fine line has been crossed, or perhaps simply gone unnoticed. Where previous FCAP works lazed but never dragged, Skyline, Starlight feels a bit weary and worn, lacking the gold leaf of their previous records and imprisoned in a Never Never Land from which it can't quite seem to break out. These are listenable tracks, make no mistake, and the vigilant ear will find a few new tricks lurking in these three familiar chords. The title track (the album's finisher) arcs like a Roman candle in bullet-time, lending new life to the familiar. But more is expected of musicians of FCAP's experience and talents. The album as a whole feels numbed on Novocain and just a touch too loyal to FCAP's playbook to encourage a very deep reading. They were but children when they started out, and they've grown up before our very eyes and ears. Here's hoping the music can catch up.
FIRST COMMUNION AFTERPARTY play an EP-release show with Sun in the Satellite, Gospel Gossip, and Come Fizzy Dolphin on SATURDAY, MAY 8, at the HEXAGON BAR; 612.722.3454
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