Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Owls - Daughters And Suns

Download: The Owls - "Peppermint Patty"
Download: The Owls - "All Those In Favor"
Download: The Owls - "Airplane"

The Owls
Daughters and Suns (Magic Marker, 2007)
Grade: B-

Daughters And Suns, the first recording in four years from beloved Minneapolis quartet The Owls, begins with the lines "We could take the hard road/if it's the only way/we could take the long road/that we've just begun". These could mean one of two things for the listener. The first is that the line will illuminate the reasons why the band took so long in between recordings and the second is the group is telling you that you are in store for a long, strange musical adventure.

To find answers to these questions, one may have to listen very carefully to Daughters and Suns, which is The Owls first album proper. This is an approach that is both beneficial and detrimental: beneficial because careful listenings show that The Owls are expert craftsmen, delicately layering sunny-sad songs like "Welcome To Monday" and "Issac Bashevis Singer" with intertwining boy-girl harmonies (which, at different times, sound like Low and The Velvet Underground), shimmering 12-string guitars and an adorable sense of melody; detrimental because, after 14 songs, the music begins to bleed into each other so that you have a hard time telling one midtempo Kinks/Belle and Sebastian song from the other. It's as if that, in the time between records, The Owls have gotten so comfortable with themselves that they see no need to shake things up

Fortunately, there are a few highlights, such as "Peppermint Patty" and "All Those In Favor" which are flat-out gorgeous and show the band at their most assured. But other songs, like "Yellow Flowers", are pretty, but fail to stand out. Ultimately, Daughters and Suns feels like having a conversation with a person who is clearly intelligent, but also very shy. The points they are making are clearly worthwhile and worth sharing, but you'd wish that they would say what they are saying with a little more confidence and variety.

The Owls on the Current

CD Release Party Tonight At The Cedar Cultural Center
Myspace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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