Quarter Acre Lifestyle | Blood on the Lawn (s/r)

cd_quarter.jpgQuarter Acre Lifestyle have made a fast, powerful, beautifully recorded set of tunes that definitely deliver the goods for the patient listener.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always fascinating to hear the subtle variations bands can achieve on well-established musical formulas. On Blood on the Lawn, the Minneapolis quintet Quarter Acre Lifestyle blends a sparkling trip hop vibe with a more jagged-edged, NIN-style industrial attack, and they’ve delivered a rather kickass debut in the process. Credit New Zealand-born brothers Aaron and Cameron Pollock (the former is the drummer, the latter plays bass and guitar) who both play with real fire and verve, and North Dakota native Kristin Brown (lead vocals) who can either soothe or spit fire at will. Her tone is rich and nuanced, and she always does what’s best for the song, without being a drama queen.

"Cold Heart" does a remarkable job wringing emotion out of Brown’s clear delivery, a series of two-note intervals on the electric guitar that resonate nicely, and a determinedly patient arrangement that asks the listener to fill in some of the blanks. It’s a great song. So is "Escalator," with its vigorous percussion, atmospheric background synth and gripping lead vocal. There’s something pensive in these songs, as though the group is bent on balancing a sense of introspection with some of their edgier rock trappings.

The title track makes a big impression with a recurring spooky keyboard sound that stands out from the pounding drums and slightly discordant guitar; these instruments all seem to be having a private conversation with one another, and you have to perk up your ears to get the hidden message. It’s an instrumental, too; there are several of them on this disc, which clearly shows that ego matters are quite secondary to feel and atmosphere for QAL.

They conjure plenty of that on the opening "Captains of Industry," which skirts Bowie-Eno territory (several tunes do, in fact). And "What Would It Mean to You" features a solid core of percolating energy that subtly keeps shifting, while shimmering keyboard glistens prettily in the background. Through it all, Brown sings ambiguous lyrics with intense conviction, matching the music perfectly. "It’s all here for you," she sings to the listener in a beckoning manner. And that’s no idle promise; Quarter Acre Lifestyle have made a fast, powerful, beautifully recorded set of tunes that definitely deliver the goods for the patient listener who likes to be lulled and slapped around a bit in equal measure. B+ | Kevin Renick

RIYL: Morcheeba, Garbage, Massive Attack

 

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