Helicopters | Sizing Up the Distance (s/r)

cd_helicopters.jpgThe album makes one wonder if distinctive musical sounds can be burned into the subconscious.







When initially listening to the first song on Sizing Up the Distance, you may check to see if your iPod accidentally pulled up The Postal Service. You then realize that it’s actually Helicopters, not to be confused with The Helicopters, the ’80s pop rock band from South Africa. Stylistically, songs seem to be coming from several different directions, depriving the album of smooth transition and flow. However, the majority of tracks can be lumped into three categories: overt musical influence(s), whiny and slightly codependent, and fun fillers.

When it comes to the first bundle, it makes one wonder if distinctive musical sounds can be burned into the subconscious. Could these impressions surface during songwriting? For instance, "Emergency" and "Iran" sound as if they were cut from The Postal Service’s Give Up. "White Lilly, No Soul" seems like a New Order and Depeche Mode two-in-one tribute; however, it’s likely the best song on the album. It could easily set the scene for a mid- to late-’80s fashion runway or exclusive nightclub. In the present, it seems like good Muzak for Euro-inspired retail establishments. Whatever the case, Derek Zoolander would be pleased.

Category two brings hope for the band…financially. There are only two songs, but each sound like potentially profitable Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. "More! Again!" and "Scraps of Bread" are both whiny. The latter carries the sappy chorus, "Your love sustains me," and additional mediocrity such as, "In you, I’m painting a Picasso."

Unfortunately, category three, fun fillers, has the most followers. "Harder Than You Think," "Restless Minds" and "This is Bookend" are verse-deficient and lackluster. The former is unoriginal, formulaic and synthesizer-drenched. The middle and latter would fare well on a Pandora channel designed for bedtime. "Still Silhouettes" seems especially lost. Annoying, fuzzy telephone voices and stagnantly repetitive beats sound overtly dated and not retro. This song should have died in pre-production.

Fortunately, all is not lost. Some of the album may serve as average party music. Also, if you’re bored, it’s worth checking out on MySpace. Another bright point: It’s the age of iTunes music à la carte. C- | Lauren Beckerle

RIYL: The Postal Service, Junior Boys, Bloc Party, Grizzly Bear

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