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Chin Up Chin Up - This Harness Canít Ride Anything

Released on Suicide Squeeze Records, 10/10/06

These dudes deserve a medal. They have been through a lot. After their initial formation in 2001, the Chicago-based quartet released a well-received self-titled EP, catching the attention of media and fans alike. They were named one of MOJOís favorite new art-pop bands and they launched into an extensive US tour with the likes of Pinback, Pedro the Lion and American Analog Set. Not bad for a newbie. It was in the midst of recording their first full-length, We Never Should Have Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, that disaster struck when bass player (Chris Saathoff) was killed by a hit-and-run driver on his way home from a show. At this point they were presented with the two obvious choices: stop or go, and after months of much needed healing and resolve, the band hit the studios to complete what they had started.

The album was welcomed into the world with open arms. People likened them to a more intelligent form of upbeat rock -- the IDM of the pop world. After extensive touring of the US they settled in to write their latest LP, This Harness Canít ride Anything.

Lead singer Jeremy Bolen reminds me of Archers of Loaf singer, Eric Bachmann. Theirs are the voices stuck between a whisper and a yowl. At first listen the throat sounds irritated, weakened, and gruff. Soon, the listener discovers a pattern in the growled-out lyrics, but unlike Bachmann, Bolen lacks the power to carry himself, and his voice, through this album. He struggles to complete lines and ends up with a scream to a whisper, and we all know itís supposed to go whisper to a scream. However, there are some really nice moments where this spastic pop smoothes out, becomes less self-conscious, and take us for a little ride on the toe-tapper. And everyone loves the toe-tapper.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars