Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shapes and Sizes can't stand still

Thanks to Gorilla Vs Bear, my relationship with Shapes and Sizes is well established. The song "Wilderness" has crept onto several mixtapes, and has been a general source of happiness for me over the last six months. I love its somber introduction and dual male-female vocals. "Wilderness" also has a shape-shifting quality that caught my attention upon first listening. At the time, the whistling midway through the track felt somewhat out of place, given the song's initial tone; yet it was difficult to draw any conclusions without hearing the song in the surrounding context of the album.

When I eventually acquired their self-titled LP, I imagined a moody creation in the vein of Grizzly Bear. To my surprise, Shapes and Sizes actually resemble the schizophrenic tradition of The Fiery Furnaces. Like The Furnaces, Shapes and Sizes infuse multiple pop songs into each track. Halfway through "Island's Gone Bad," an abrupt shift in melody occurs - must be the next song. Before settling into this theory, the original theme of "Island's" blends back into the speakers, prompting a confused glance at the iTunes player. Blueberry Boat brought upon this same reaction of never knowing when a song was over. Unlike Blueberry Boat, Shapes and Sizes makes an effort to contain its wandering, and benefits from it.

Because the band has three songwriters, it's easy to understand the album's scattered nature. Still, all great albums must have a unified purpose. While this doesn't necessarily translate as an overt concept LP, the listener needs to experience the album as a whole in order to gain from it. The unifying theme of Shapes and Sizes is juxtaposition. Instead of blending three songwriters into one, the album takes on the story of three unique voices. Even then, the structure it not so black and white. Instead of quarantining the songwriters to separate tracks (a la Wolf Parade), the members of Shapes and Sizes co-inhabit the same world. This fact only becomes apparent once you have the album. Listening to "Weekend at a Time" without "I am Cold" following it leaves the experience unfinished. Although I am partial to the more sedated sections of Shapes and Sizes, I greatly appreciate the diversity contained throughout my journey.

Go buy Shapes and Sizes right now at emusic.

[mp3] Shapes and Sizes - Wilderness

[mp3] Shapes and Sizes - Islands Gone Bad

Shapes and Sizes are also coming through LA in December, and it promises to be a great show.

12/20/06 - Spaceland (buy tix)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MP3 links point to non-existent files.

7:10 PM  

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