Ave, Follow Your Saint

There’s a sticker on the front of Follow Your Saint that says “think: radiohead, portishead, danny elfman.” And how correct they are, sir! Opener “Toll for the Brave” starts with an oblong electro-beat that seems strangely familiar but that I can’t quite place. With the vocals being lined up and mumbled (gently), it’s kind of exciting because you have no idea where this could lead. Are these guys complete weirdos, locked in a studio in Denmark somewhere, where lack of daylight/moonlight stirs up strange muses only known to distant, Northern folk? Not so fast, because here comes the “Radiohead” dynamic: quiet & dour — loud and anguished — back to the quiet and dour.

The next cut (a recommended one, via the front sticker) starts off weird and promising. Another “off” beat with a wobbly synth walking alongside. The chorus carries much the same formula as the first, except with analog blasts of fuzzy static. I’ve begun to focus on the production techniques rather than the songs themselves — a good thing, if that’s your bag.

“If Ever Any Beauty” has my full attention with its great pop hook and gentle, melancholy use of the harpsichord. The well-crafted song is displayed with the interesting production used as a complement rather than a centerpiece. Now I’m hearing touches of Zita Swoon and the Beach Boys.

“Pilgrimsage” starts with the distant, scratchy-record sound made popular by Portishead. The vocals are sort of barked out like one of the cookie-cutter L.A. bands but then descend into another wind-tunnel, breathing machine, organ-pulsing chorus. Drop in the odd analog sounds, and the Ave sound is established. “Endless Light” starts with a typewriter clicking. Fantastic! There’re some nice-sounding guitars, plus another aching chorus that soars.

Everything is in place here — the sounds, the songs, the production, the salesmanship. Follow Your Saint is brooding, incorporates modern touches with strange noises, yet doesn’t abandon guitars nor their influences. If your poison is melancholia set off with analog bleeps and artsy melody lines, these Scandinavians will be a safe, familiar addition to your collection.

(self-released; Ave -- http://www.ave-music.com/)
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, December 7th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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