Soundtrack to the End
With a band name referencing Neutral Milk Hotel and tracks titled “Fortunate Son” and “Speed of Sound,” you have to wonder how much newcomers Communist Daughter were going for originality points on their debut release, Soundtrack to the End. But if they don’t draw many comparisons to NMH – they sound at once modest, clean, and light – that doesn’t mean they’re bad, not by a longshot.
It’s hard to pick out what provides the cohesiveness to Soundtrack. For the first three tracks, some Southern-tinged riffs and a giddy-up drumbeat drive the album steadily and catchily along. Vocalist Johnny Solomon’s mutter-singing invokes The Shins (think: “New Slang”) and Iron and Wine. What really shine, though, are the wispy harmonies featured on tracks like “Speed of Sound” and “Oceans,” which provide Solomon a female counterpoint. If there is a silkiness to some of these tracks that stands in stark contrast to the band’s titular antecessors, it is because of these paper-thin harmonies. Indeed, those middle tracks that are rougher around the edges – “Fortunate Son,” for instance – are the most middling parts of Soundtrack.
There is a sadness to Communist Daughter’s music, both lyrically and melodically, but it is not accompanied by pessimism. Those lilting harmonies hint at hope, as do Solomon’s lyrics in even the most downbeat of songs on Soundtrack, like “Minnesota Girls.” On that track, the last one on the album, Solomon pushes out the words “I don’t owe you nothing/But blue skies.” Sadness today, happiness tomorrow. That’s what Communist Daughter sounds like. And while I can’t give Soundtrack to the End a glowing review today, I’m looking forward to what Solomon and co. produce in years to come.
-- Dan Bliss
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