Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The Choir - "The Loudest Sound Ever Heard"
The Choir - The Loudest Sound Ever Heard
2012, Galaxy 21
1. Strange Girl
2. Learning To Fly
3. Cross That River
4. Laughter of Heaven
5. O How
6. The Forest
7. Takin' the Universe In
9. A World Away
10. After All (Feat. Leigh Nash)
The Loudest Sound Ever Heard is quite a boon for us Choir fans. After all it had been five years between Flap Your Wings and O How the Mighty Have Fallen and another five before the band released Burning Like the Midnight Sun. Having a new album in just two short years, well, it's just wonderful. What I like most about Loudest Sound is the fresh, new textures the band brings to bear. I love the album opener, "Strange Girl" with its jangly riff and catchy hook. I also like the watery guitars and Steve's unique drumming on "Laughter of Heaven." Even Dan Michaels' sax seems to have new life as it seems to be more prominent and used in different ways. The low sax notes in "Takin' the Universe In" give that song a groove you won't find on any previous album. I always thought that Midnight Sun sounded very familiar where Loudest Sound takes me in completely different territory. There are some tracks that don't really "wow" me like "Learning to Fly" and "The Forest" - they sound a bit generic to me. However, there's still plenty to love. The pleasantly acoustic "Melodious" (dedicated to bassist Tim Chandler) and the touching "A World Away" also impress. The latter of which includes one of my favorite choruses ever.
Which leads me to my next point. I like the lyrics here as compared to the last album. While the funny stories of "Mr. Chandler" and the Marc Byrd tribute were fun, they didn't really anchor in my heart like Choir lyrics tend to do. Steve's at his best when he's personal and this is probably one of the more personal albums he's penned despite not having any songs about fighting with his wife. Steve openly admits that he doesn't have all the answers - "I'm a world away from enlightened/ More than a stone's throw from the Truth/ I'm a sad, far cry from a man who never lies/ But I'll hold the lantern high for you" (from "A World Away"). It's this kind of hopeful honesty that I've always loved about his lyrics.
The album closes with a duet with Leigh Nash. Being a bonna-fide Sixpence tard I was looking forward to this song most of all. However, upon hearing it I was a little ambivalent about the vocals. See, the problem is that Derri and Leigh sound too similar. So it doesn't really sound like two voices coming together to make something new, it just sounds like two people singing. I think I might have liked it more immediately if they'd traded off vocals. That being said, the melody of this song is haunting and beautiful and after repeated listens I got over my initial dislike of the vocals and it has become another favorite.
The Loudest Sound Ever Heard is quite an achievement for a band that's been together this long. I will say that the cover art doesn't do much for me. It's a little... um... smeary for my tastes. The artwork in the liner notes is great, it's just the cover that looks like it was left out in the rain. A small nitpick, however, because at the end of the day this is a fine album and I love listening to it.
Useless Fact: The album title refers to the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa that killed a bunch of people. It was reportedly the "loudest sound ever heard." It's also used to reference the love between two good friends.