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Sleepy dream-pop from
Portland shoegazers

The High Violets - Cinema
(Comet Rock Records)
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 15, 2010
The High Violets

Review by Tony Bonyata

On The High Violets' third full-length effort of new material, Cinema, the Portland. OR-based band continues to draw from past inspirations that fueled their two previous studio albums, 44 Down and 2007's To Where You Are. Tapping into the dreamy, shoegazing style of music popularized by 80s and '90s acts such as Lush, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Love & Rockets and the Cocteau Twins, the quartet indeed evoke that time period, yet, unfortunately, don't really put enough of their own spin on the music to make it stand out from the crowd. Perhaps the even worse offense for many of these tracks is that they fail to inspire or leave any real lasting impression.

While songs such as the opening "Goodnight Goodbye" and the following track "Midnight's Child" both feature a propelling rhythm section, shimmering guitars and Kaitlyn ni Donovan's effervescent vocals, there's an undeniable sameness in the overall vibe. When they do manage to downshift into a lower gear on the song "Angela" even Donovan's beautiful whispering vocal can't awake this maudlin dirge from its slumber.

Surprisingly, however, some the album's more interesting moments occur when least expected. The lovely electronic instrumental track "Murmur" hints at Brian Eno happily wandering through one of his own ambient soundscapes on Prozac, while the album's epic closing number "Vortex" proves that you can make a lot of noise and still create a sense of bliss. While all of their adventures into the poppier side of things don't always gel, they manage to get it right on the song "Cine" with hazy guitars, a driving backline, angelic harmonies and some fine pop hooks. While these moments don't happen enough to really propel the whole album to the next level, they still suggest that there's future promise for this band and their music.


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