Human Highway | Moody Motorcycle (Suicide Squeeze)

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cd_human-motorcycle.jpgOn this collaboration between singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie and ex-Unicorns and current Islands member Nick Thorburn, the narrow distance between single and otherwise puts other indie musicians to shame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Highway's debut album, Moody Motorcycle, seems like such an odd bird in these modern times. On this collaboration between singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie and ex-Unicorns and current Islands member Nick Thorburn, the narrow distance between single and otherwise puts other indie musicians to shame.

Somewhere between the aural layers of Beck's Sea Change and the pop sensibilities of pre-rehab Wilco sits Moody Motorcycle. One could easily pin it as another semi-acoustic album for neo-Bohemian lovebirds, but if anything, "competent" is a dirty word for this duo, taking the usual elements and making something unusually good out of them. Guthrie and Thoburn's voices flow together uncommonly well, creating an almost timeless and flowing lullaby. Every chord change, guitar arpeggio and aural texture rarely feel like anything but the best choice. With closed eyes and headphones, it is almost as if you're listening to something secret. It's this sense of something private and sensitive that brings this album to the foreground.

Of course, no album is absolutely perfect. For all there is to like about Moody Motorcycle, some of the lyrics come off as too dry and other times they evoke not so inspired imagery. Some of the rhymes are almost in "moon/June" territory and this will turn off critical listeners, but those who stick around for more than a few listens will find themselves forgetting and forgiving, possibly feeling rewarded. The vocal delivery and sung melodies on tracks like "All Day" and "Sleep Talking" are so strong, the fact that every verse may not be a lyrical masterstroke becomes inconsequential.

In this age of MySpace pages and iTunes, ProTools and vocoders, it's hard to imagine hearing a record so complete and remarkable if only for the fact that it pulls you in. Human Highway's first effort may be shaky at times, but I dare you to not get lost in it. B+ | Bryan J. Sutter

RIYL: Dr. Dog. Ladyhawk, Wilco

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