Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Lo-Fi, Oh My!

March 17, 2009

inhourThere is a certain sound quality that an exceptionally slick, well-produced rock record yields, and it almost always evokes images of stacks of dollar bills, mile-long mixing boards, men in three-piece suits, and other semblances of the like. It has this great mystique, but of a rather intangible sense. To the contrary, there is a property that the poor man’s recording possesses, and its character summons a great quality of the listener – imagination.

Meneguar’s 2008 LP, The In Hour, isn’t slick. Heck, it’s not even marketable. But it has been blessed with great amounts of personality that ultimately lend to a great amount of listenability.

The Brooklyn-based quartet’s third release lets us know that they’re capable of writing more than just the anthemic nineties-esque indie-post-punk-noise-pop that captured so many fans, including myself, with 2005’s I Was Born at Night and the follow-up, Strangers in Our House. They’ve gone out on a limb here with a newer, yet more lo-fi sound, and they even threw in some new instruments to seal the deal – the haunting ‘The Morning, the Night’ is airily (and eerily) chanted to a backdrop of piano, glockenspiel, and a gang of oohs and aahs. The album’s title track also debuts the use of acoustic guitar as a primary instrument, but it’s comfortably pulled off with some noisy electric to back it up.

Don’t worry, though, for the familiar habits of penning irresistible sing-along choruses and jagged yet smoothly flowing, harmonizing guitar parts still found their way onto The In Hour. You shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself shuffling your feet and subtly pumping your fist into the air with a big grin on your face upon first listen of the album’s opener, “Let Us Decide,” and others like the adrenalized-turned-psychedelic jam “We Own We Sell.”

If bound together correctly, playfulness and urgency can suit each other pretty well. Artistic expression and frisky, wound-up rock and roll fit like a tailored suit on Meneguar without coming off as pretentious or too out-of-reach. In fact, with the harshness and recurrent dissonance you’ll find in the band’s third full-length, you’d probably think this was its first release. But that’s the beauty of it. This LP should prove that, while there’s still some work to be done, experimentation leads to a band’s excellence; and The In Hour has been a successful experiment.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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