Sergeant | Midnight to Midnight (s/r)

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cd_sergeant.jpgYet another four piece steps out of San Francisco to express disappointment with love and life.  In lieu of diversity of theme, Sergeant has released a CD that seems to give variations of two or three songs several times over.

 

 

 

 

How much can be said about a band whose press claims they have an "extra depth that most bands don't have," and that they are "neither playing up the angst or slipping into parody?" Unfortunately, not an incredible amount. It's clear that Sergeant doesn't slip into parody, at least not an intentional one with their debut full length, but as for not playing up the angst? It's difficult to make that claim when eight of the 11 tracks sound as though they are reiterations of one song with near identical droning (read: whining) vocalizations about living a life of pain and heartbreak.

Vocalist Keli Reule begins most of the compositions with an overly breathy tenor that tries too hard to lull the listener in for heart-wrenching false starts and dynamic shifts that never come, leaving the audience to fill in blanks that shouldn't be there and perhaps even needing an aspirin and a short nap. The backing sound provided by the band is as circular and redundant as the wounded ambience that recurs in nearly every single song on the album and forces the listener to wonder if hitting the "random" button on the CD player would provide any randomness at all.

The saving graces of the CD are "Your Royal Majesty," with its buildup and push into a powerful bridge, and "Seed of Fire," which shows at least some promise as a more complex and sophisticated piece with some drive and a much more raw emotion threaded into it. These two diamonds in the rough lose much of their luster, though, against a backdrop of college notebook lyrics that only serve to turn the band into a weird incarnation of the bad relationship you had once with a codependent you couldn't get rid of due to some strange sense of guilt.

There are certainly strains of musical talent that show through in Reule, who gives us a brief glimpse of her potential in the last untitled track, a piano instrumental with strong and clean chord progressions. It is unfortunate that this talent does not seem to be played out, though, and by the end of that final piece, the listener is left feeling as though he or she has just been on the wrong side of a therapy session. Perhaps if Sergeant is around long enough for a second full-length, these elements can come into play. D+ | Jason Neubauer

RIYL: The Distillers' whiny younger sister, The Dresden Dolls without that pesky lyrical talent

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