Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Album Review: The Babies - "Our House on The Hill" - simply perfect

"Our House On The Hill" contains a collection of songs that are not overly fancy or pretentious. The Babies have crafted a straight forward kind of rootsy folk post punk rock album that feels genuinely pure of heart. If I were to choose one adjective to describe the tone here, it would be wanderlusty. Ok, that might not be a word but it should be. A lot of the songs feel very much like running away from home or running towards some unknowable thing that could be your saving grace. Cassie Ramone and Kevin Morby  trade lead vocal duties and their individual vocal styles play off each others so well. This is most evident on Chase It To Grave and Slow Walking. Kevin Morby's voice with it's natural a icy cool "fuck you" snarl and Ramone's voice which, to me, has always had a detached feel (which I love by the way) fit together not only sonically but emotionally.

Songs like Get Lost and Baby feel so damn kinetically charged and full of youthful defiance. Moonlight Mile is a full tilt sprint as Morby sings "You better watch your step out on the moonlight mile...You better show respect or you’ll be here a while" as the song is propelled by a really cool bass line and jangly rhythm. Mess Me Around instantly pumps with a western twang and rockabilly spirit like Buddy Holly if he was a punker.

Amidst all the rambling rock, Mean kind of slaps you squarely across the face. Production wise, it feels very much like a song off the cuff or a demo in the sense that every heartfelt lyric is not perfectly phrased and here lies the brilliance of this song. In tone it feels like a blend of Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Lou Reed. The horn solo is surprising and elegant.

"Our House on the Hill" contain songs that feel like classics right out of the box. They feel iconic. They feel road worn. The songs cast images of Texas sunsets... of running away in the night and starting fights for the right reasons. They have a rock and roll punk swagger with country western strains. It is a great album. The last track Wandering feels like a sojourn full of sorrow and lost days. It wraps you up in it's story, "Now that the day is done and the sun is on it's fall... wonder as I wander- how am I alive at all (?) What did it take to get me here, what will it take to leave... fall in love and then I hate everything I see."

Robb Donker
Stream the entire album for a limited time at SPIN

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