The Constellations | Southern Gothic (Virgin)

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Even with a lot of vulgar lyrics, it never sounds too off putting because everything here is really catchy.

Seedy isn't generally a flattering description, but the few bands that this fits always stand out. The Doors were one of the first mainstream bands to deliver descriptive tales of empty bars, evil women and hangovers. Continuing in this tradition is Atlanta's The Constellations, a band that takes direction from their lead singer, Elijah Jones. Jones generally doesn’t get above a growl, bringing a rap like delivery. This is perfect for tracks like “Felicia,” a song about one of those evil women, and the excellent opener, “Setback.” I've always had a soft spot for singers that sound like nobody else, and Jones is definitely one. This is shown on “Love Is A Murder” and “We're Here To Save The Day,” which fit his voice perfectly. Even with a lot of vulgar lyrics, it never sounds too off putting because everything here is really catchy.

 Southern Gothic suffers when the band tries to mix genres too liberally. Specifically, “Step Right Up” kills some of the great momentum they’ve built. Most of the song is rambled over a good but monotonous cowbell beat, and at nine minutes long it meanders terribly. As a result, the song is definitely skippable. “Take A Ride” suffers from a similar effect, and although it ends up being a good track, it’s a bit too all over the place.

Oddly, The Constellations are at their best when they step away from the slums and into cleaner fare. This is shown in the album's best cut, “December,” a gorgeous gothic influenced track where Jones steps outside his comfort zone into an expressive delivery. They continue that and close strongly with two of most upbeat and funky tracks on the album, “Weighing Me Down” and “On My Way Up,” both of which show a pretty dramatic turn from the rest of the songs.

Really, the only issue with Southern Gothic is it tries to do too much and is a little exhausting at times. The Constellations bring a new sound that is exceptionally promising. The good news is their issues are all fixable, and even understandable coming from a band with clearly such diverse influences. But as they continue to grow and evolve, hopefully they won’t forget what makes them so unique. B | Brett Berliner

RIYL: OK Go, The Rapture, Louis XIV
 

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