Friday, March 4, 2011

And the Running With Insanity EP - Alcoholic Faith Mission

And the Running With Insanity

Alcoholic Faith Mission
Paper Garden Records.

SCQ Rating: 78%

Alcoholic Faith Mission have jumped several indie-rock mantles over the past year and a half, predominantly through endless touring and that one-two blitzkrieg of releases, 421 Wythe Avenue and Let This Be the Last Night We Care. With the latter full-length and its career-defining climax (‘Honeydrip’), it was hard to imagine the band further equipping their bombast without running the risk of repeating themselves. So, it’s with relief and a wince of sadness to report that Alcoholic Faith Mission have side-stepped predictability once more, shying somewhat from their 2010 effort’s cathartic pulse in favour of patient songwriting that outlives all of life’s more immediate sensations.

There was a lot of blood, confusion and drunkenness at the root of Let This Be the Last Night We Care, which collectively made for a tumultuous listening-experience. Instead of trying to top that level of intensity, the sextet from Copenhagen has done something far more courageous: they’ve put aside one set of strengths to hone another. Compositionally, And the Running With Insanity EP is likely the band’s high-watermark. Eloquently paced and adventurous, each of these five songs explore melodic and vocal possibilities without straying from their core hooks. A breathless harmonica sets the title track’s rhythm with an airy vibe, which Thorben Seiero Jensen then flatters by crooning an almost jovial break-up song. With a flurry of hand-claps and backing vocals, 'Running With Insanity''s arrangement unfurls unlike anything from their back-catalog, confidently exploring detours grown organically from their craft.

Sometimes the band’s mid-tempo grooves evoke disparaging comparisons, as with how ‘Legacy’ stirs up a vocal line reminiscent of Iron and Wine or ‘When They Bleed’ grabs at a guitar hook used by The XX, but each passing familiarity reiterates how quickly this young group are evolving their heartfelt anthems. The last two tracks, ‘Drowning (In Myself)’ and ‘Dancing Fools’, are arguably the EP’s best, swooning on clever lyricism and instrumentation doused with rich harmonics – trademarks the band has nurtured from the beginning. Coming from a group that, just two years ago, couldn’t shake journalists’ tendency for Broken Social Scene comparisons (SCQ is likewise guilty of it), And the Running With Insanity EP is a quiet revelation, showing a willingness to dissect themselves and reconvene for the most hummable, if not bombastic, version of Alcoholic Faith Mission yet.

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