The Cape May | Glass Mountain Road (Flemish Eye)

cd_capemayCalgary's The Cape May's sophomore album, Glass Mountain Roads, has a lot in common with a fresh box of warm, soft donuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone who has ever tried to eat a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts in one sitting can agree that there is truth in the phrase "too much of a good thing." After the first two donuts, you're telling yourself this is the best food ever, but then you get to donut six and things start to change. The button on your pants is about to shoot off, you've got a little sweat on your brow, and you would eat green beans for the rest of your life if you could take a bite of something not deep-fried and covered in sugary glaze. Even though your arteries are 70 percent clogged by the end of the box, you can't help but smile and plan your next visit.

Calgary's The Cape May's sophomore album, Glass Mountain Roads, has a lot in common with a fresh box of warm, soft donuts. I want to clarify, though, that comparing listening to Glass Mountain Roads to the challenge of eating a dozen Krispy Kremes does not make this a bad album by any means. In fact, it is a quite good album. The Cape May sing of dreary landscapes filled with eerie, dreamlike ambience. If Krispy Kremes weren't so delicious, I wouldn't try to eat an entire box of them in one sitting. Rather, this album feels too formulaic in places; you wish there was just one chocolate long john in the mix.

Album opener "Spring Flight to the Land of Fire" is not only one of the strongest tracks, but also sets the tone for everything that follows. The song, like many on the album, takes the shape of a three-act play. The first act is somber and quiet in mood. Mixing ghastly vocals with shimmering guitars and a gently pulsating bass, the album is off to a great start. Halfway through, the music abruptly quiets and the guitars disappear, only to explode back with the addition of oddly distorted synth background before returning to peace and quiet.

Three-act songs take up most of the tracks on this album. Though the formula often works, it becomes tiresome and predictable. When the listener is merely through the quiet beginning and mid-tempo middle, waiting for the final, explosive act, it takes some of the punch out of it when it actually arrives. By the time you reach the end of the album, you start thinking that the big explosion is going to come in the form of a four-minute epic, yet this does not happen. All in all, it feels as if they build too much tension for how little is released, the results of which make the album feel claustrophobic.

Although many songs share a dramatic theme, there are still a few standout tracks. "Old & Early Numbers" opens with reflective drums and eerie keyboards until Clinton St. John's voice enters the picture. The drums suddenly pick up pace and tension grows until pace gently eases back to gloom. The next time the drums pick up it is for real, as mountains of guitars enter and tempo picks up, releasing the tension that had been growing all song. Back-half gem "Still Island" opens with swirling violins and twinkling guitars. It continues along this path until the violins are dropped, only to be replaced with pounding drums and a wall of guitar glory.

The Cape May's penchant for building and releasing tension renders them a distant cousin of post-rock bands like Explosions in the Sky, if they only made five-minute rock songs instead of ten-minute epics. Add in vocals reminiscent of Will Oldham and you've got The Cape May. The Cape May's Glass Mountain Roads is a promising album that showcases a band doing what they do best and sounding great. Although Glass Mountain Roads is a strong album with some great tracks, I couldn't help but hope for something to break the monotony. B | Mike Tangaro

RIYL: Songs; Ohia, Will Oldham, Explosions in the Sky

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