Minor Alps: Get There

Written by October 28th, 2013 at 1:56 pm

minor alps
Minor Alps
Get There
(Barsuk)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

File this oddly named sympathetic collaboration between ex-Blake Babies gone solo singer/songwriter Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws under indie adult pop. The duo co-write, sing and play nearly every instrument on a predominantly lush, lovely rendered debut that is never less than pleasant. Unfortunately, it’s seldom more than that either as these amiable tunes drift on a dreamy haze that threatens to slide into a memorable chorus or melody, but seldom does.

Hatfield’s usually enticing, girlish voice gets lost when she’s harmonizing with Caws’ whispered croon, and with only two rockers to break the mood, little leaves a lasting impression. Even when she takes the lead on “I Don’t Know What to Do with My Hands,” one of the disc’s more hummable tracks, the song never really gels. The best track is leadoff single “Far From the Roses” which nails a sweet, circular guitar part that never feels as chilly or emotionless as the rest of the disc.

Using drum machines to underpin a large portion of these performances also doesn’t help them shake off the shackles of ordinariness. The mostly sedate approach on songs of longing such as “Waiting for You” needs a sense of vocal or musical desperation to convey its yearning lyrics. That leaves each tune blending into the next with little for the listener to hang on to beyond the overall gauzy mood. Occasionally it’s enough such as on the melancholy “Radio Static” that floats by on Hatfield’s charming voice and a laid back bed of chiming electric guitar. While that creates a uniformity of sound, it also homogenizes the end results, all of which are agreeable, professionally rendered and, like the twosome’s blurry moniker, somewhat bland and forgettable.

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