This has a lot in common with the softer, smoother side of college alt-rock and the various waves of indie that came after it, from R.E.M. to Smashing Pumpkins to Grandaddy. Frontman Dave Taha does take on an uncanny Michael Stipe drawl to deliver lines like, “Like a video game, flashing nothing, everybody is stuck on explode.” The pacing is the real accomplishment of this record; this is a band that knows how to ramp up and mellow out in exactly the right places. Not something you really notice until you hear it done right. There’s the hint of a folksy twang running through side A, especially the one-two opening punch of “Don’t You Know” and “Waiting on a Train”—not so much as to nudge this thing into full-on cowpunk territory, but enough to call maybe the first Titus Andronicus album to mind. It’s on side B that this tendency blossoms into the swingy melancholy of “Wild Abandon” and “Is You Is,” the aching gospel finale. This is my first listen to Filmstrip, but I get the feeling I’m catching them on their way up to something bigger.
–Indiana Laub (Exit Stencil, [email protected], exitstencil.org)