A horrible hack

Graham Repulski

My Dreams Have Arms/No Expectations

Year Released: 2011
Format: Tape
Label: Shorter Recordings
Reviewed by james pacanowski on Mar 10, 2011
Third release from this New Jersey bunch in a short while (and reading the review for their last one, turns out I started that review in almost exactly the same way). Technically third and fourth release, as this cassette comprises two EPs of older material. Regardless, it's a nice stopgap between their last record (the wonderful 'Electric Worrier') and their next album which I am told will be coming fairly hot on the heels of this one. Busy bees.

One might be concerned that this flurry of releases might have a detrimental effect on the quality of what's being put out, but that certainly isn't the case here. Mostly for the fact that, as mentioned, this is older stuff (though I can only attest for a few songs being previously released material so it is entirely possible some of it is new, in which case it is even more impressive). But as they proved with 'Electric Worrier' which came out not too long after their first full-length, good material tends to come naturally to them anyway.

The real concern is that, despite being 15 songs deep, this is still only 21 minutes long. The longest songs top out just a shade past 2 minutes, while on average they tend to kick out around past a minute. But what a fine collection of 60 second nuggets they are. Pitched somewhere between the shorter, noisier parts of Guided By Voices and the post-Eric's Trip lo-fi acoustics and Alan Parsons appreciation of Moon Socket, Graham Repulski write swooning pop songs and then cake it beneath layers of chirping drone, buzzing guitars and reverb. Sweet and sour in aural form.

As an EP, the format works wonderfully; rather than fewer, longer songs you get to hear the band explore a variety of melodies. There's no question that the band is best when they let a tune breathe - as is the case with the gloomy “When I Was A Book Report”, the crunching and raucous “Italian Bees” and the magnificent “Dad Talks About Alan Parsons” - but when they clearly feel the need not to constrain themselves or artificially jamming as many ideas as possible into one song, it's hard to find reason to argue with them. At times it feels fairly breathless, but it's also equally moreish.

With the aforementioned promise of another record in the works that will be a little closer to a traditional length, this is a perfect way to get yourself either excited or familiar with the band if you've not given them a listen already.

Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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