Water & Bodies

Light Year

Written by: TL on 06/03/2011 22:31:31

When last I heard from Portland, Oregon-based quartet Water & Bodies, it was 2009 and the band had just released a self-titled EP, which I found fairly enjoyable and hence rewarded with a relatively benevolent review. Seemingly, this has made the band come back for more, this time around with an LP which is their first, and which they call "Light Year". The recording was funded entirely by fan donations on Kickstarter.com, so apparently things have been going well enough for Water & Bodies for people to want to hear more from them.

Unfortunately, my own personal appreciation for these guys dropped significantly as I made my way through "Light Year", as my impressions from it are almost exclusively negative. My vague memories of the band's last EP cast them as a piano-driven band, yet this record features them relying much more on guitar, and while this would give most bands more power, W&B sound profoundly impotent, and I find it hard to really compare them to any other bands I can think of.

The production is adequate, but also dull, and singer Christopher Ruff seems a little low in the mix at times, but that's not a big issue. What is a big issue is that Ruff, whose voice is I've already noted as slightly similar to George Michael's, performs with a sort of try-hard emotional investment that quickly starts seeming uncool and rather grating. He doesn't get much help from his bandmates though, as the soundscape has got no edge or attitude to speak of, and after the openers "Celebration Song" and "Free World", there's not a catchy number in sight.

In fact, with the exception of "1980", which shines as a ray of hope, by giving off a slight Incubus-vibe, there's a dominant feeling of the songs being more like little vessels which the band hopes to ride to greater success, than like individual compositions meant to communicate anything of interest to us, the listeners. Overall, I'm quite disappointed to consistently realize halfway through the album, that I'd really rather be listening to something else, and reading from the band's promotional material that they've played together for ten years in different constellations, only makes me think that this is a work of experience, rather than talent or inspiration. These guys need to find an attitude and start risking something, otherwise I'm afraid I'll be quite dismayed when their next record comes out.

Download: Free World, Celebration Song, 1980
For The Fans Of: safe, straightforward pop-rock
Listen: myspace.com/waterandbodies

Release Date 22.02.2011
EYOS Records

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