Escuchando discos como No one in control, uno se pregunta si realmente la deriva al Rock más adulto por parte de ciertas bandas tiene realmente algún atractivo para algún buen degustador musical. Me pregunto igualmente si puede haber compañías discográficas que pierdan sus esfuerzos (y dineros) en productos lamentablemente tan mediocres como éste.
Cuando en un álbum la producción se centra en subir el volumen de las baterías y secciones de ritmo y bajar el de las guitarras y teclados, es que algo pasa… Cuando además las propias composiciones tampoco acompañan (algunos de los temas ya son viejos conocidos de Eps anteriores)… Entonces es cuando definitivamente bajamos el telón y le dedicamos nuestro tiempo a otra cosa.
Construido en base a un pseudo acercamiento al Shoegaze más ambiental o al Pop electrónico, No one in control es un disco en el que personalmente no encuentro ningún tipo de motivación para oírlo detenidamente.
Ahora es cuando realmente me planteo si las verdaderas y buenas ideas se encuentran en Bandcamp o en Soundcloud. Desde luego en este disco no.
“The biography section of Snowden’s website cautiously acknowledges the seven year gap between 2006’s Anti-Anti, but steers clear of the question of what bandleader Jordan Jeffares was actually up to during all that time. Sure, they toured that album for a while and probably took some time off to recuperate, but there’s something a little perturbing about the fact that their 2010 Slow Soft Syrup EP, which served as a sneak peek of the new No One In Control, came out three years before the album it was meant to build hype for. A cursory listen through the new album partially answers the question – its songs are meticulously crafted, brimming with subtly mixed layers and gorgeous sounds that all swirl together to make a sonic playground of an album. But the fact of the album’s overincubation hangs over it darkly, insisting that the question be asked: was it worth the wait?
Snowden have become a more nuanced, mature band since Anti-Anti, but for those unfamiliar with their debut album (it’s not your fault; it’s theirs), Snowden’s debut fit right into the wave of bands following the New York scene at the time, taking influence from Interpol’s dark post-punk edge, the winking dance-rock of LCD Soundsystem, and the gorgeous, surreal sort-of-shoegaze of TV on the Radio. Snowden’s music was built a lot like Bloc Party’s: a strong, busy beat underpinning layered, tone-focused guitars, though Jeffares’ soft voice wasn’t as distinct or charismatic as any of the aforementioned bands’ singers. The Snowden of today draws from a broader field, tastefully borrowing guitar tones and a love of careful dissonance from My Bloody Valentine and the dreamier side of shoegaze. It’s the music is vivid and sensual while the vocals are chilled and reserved, emotionless at times.
“The Beat Comes” is the album’s obvious standout, an instant summer jam that everyone should go blasting around town with the windows down before jumping in a pool somewhere. Gorgeously produced, it has an adventurous, youthful vigor to it, like Jeffares is channeling classic Beach Boys through his band’s filter. Dreamy ambiance and soft strums lead the verse before a punchy, instantly catchy keyboard and a simple beat give the chorus a buoyant punch, both instruments making as much use of the rests and empty space around their parts as the parts themselves. The bridge brings reverent backing vocals into play before one of the best MBV-mimicing guitar leads that I’ve ever heard takes the song to even greater heights.
It’s nice to hear an album whose strongest tracks each achieve greatness in different ways. Opener “No One In Control” is vast, slowly unfolding into a grandiose statement that could pass for an Arcade Fire song that they haven’t added all the people to yet. “Hiss” has a narly, sexy grind to it that begs for a duet with Karen O. But the standouts, especially “The Beat Comes,” contrast violently with the songs that don’t stand out at all, which is a lot of them. Songs like “So Red” set the bar low for themselves, settling on a groove and a hook and staying predictable from there, while “Candy For Everyone” and “No Words Anymore” are buried by their pretty production, making it difficult not to tune them out. “Don’t Really Know Me” and “This Year” have memorable moments, but don’t make the most of them, plodding through forgettable verses and stretching their lengths unforgivably. A lot of these songs feel overcooked, like they were once demos with unrealized potential but were buried in pretty, forgettable layers instead of being revised from the ground up. Having a song as immediately satisfying as “The Beat Comes” hurts the album in a way – its energy makes it clear what the rest of the album is missing.
The wait is worth it for Snowden’s second album, but its insanely long preparation holds it back from being what it should be, both objectively and subjectively. If this album had come out five years ago it would have been a great followup to Anti-Anti, an album that pushed the band in interesting new directions while maintaining Snowden’s strengths. By 2013, some of these songs would be forgotten and the highlights would have had years to boost Snowden’s reputation and flesh out their setlists. It wouldn’t be as nicely produced, but some of the songs might sound better that way. Perhaps in this over-saturated musical landscape it’s wise for a band to stay out of the spotlight until they’re ready with an absolutely great album, but No One In Control is not a great album. It’s pretty good, and its highlights are awesome, but its long inception is something for Snowden to brush off (as their website does), not something to publicize. But there’s nothing wrong with putting out a good second album that’s better than your first. If Snowden can do the same with their third, they might be onto something that’s worth waiting another seven years for” (In Your Speakers)
Snowden es una banda de Brooklyn que no está muy alineada con la mayor parte de sonidos que de esa ciudad están surgiendo. Snowden es una banda con un sonido sombrío y ensoñador: gloomy cheer, como ellos mismos lo definen. Shoegaze tranquilo, con sonidos de guitarras que casi siempre quedan en un segundo plano, mezcladas con teclados que crean una atmósfera de distorsión en la que se encuadran sus temas: No words no more, So red, No one in control, Anemone arms -mi favorita-… lo que configura su sonido como un remanso de calma Shoegaze con algunos ramalazos de Post-Rock siempre con una cierta contención, como si de repente fuera a explotar una tormenta que nunca llega. En cualquier caso, buen disco que la banda ha decidido compartir gratuitamente con todo aquel que quiera descargarlo e incluso colaborar con alguna donación hasta el momento en que se edite un nuevo álbum de la banda. Puedes descargarlo gratuitamente desde aquí, a cambio tan sólo de una dirección de mail.
“Snowden have played up and down the seaboard so often they’re mistaken for New Yawkers. Led by singer/songwriter Jordan Jeffares, the Atlanta four-piece mopes as cool as any number of Gotham brooders, and you don’t need Interpol to know which way the gloom blows. There’s even a round or two of throat-rent Casablancas on the surprisingly romantic “Stop Your Bleeding”, while “Black Eyes” leaves something uptown, as drummer Chandler Rentz pounds dark and pensive. True, if dudes were actually NYC men they’d be copping This Heat by now, but that, along with crisply efficient songcraft, is Snowden’s secret. Their name may come from Joseph Heller’s famously satirical Catch-22, and their record may be called Anti-Anti, but Snowden’s full-length debut is as flat-out passionate as you used to expect from Jade Tree. The title track is the manifesto, unabashedly enjoying its catchy/dumb intro and guitar smolder in a way that pleasantly betrays its origins far from the potentially stultifying self-consciousness of the only city that really matters, even as it bitterly mocks your “fashion drugs” and too-cool silence. “One time we believed, but now it’s passing and cliché,” Jeffares’ deep voice tells me, “And she’ll say anything to make you move again.” Fuzz-bass-smoked “Between the Rent and Me” cuts closer: “What do you think I am/ Or do you think at all?” (pitchfork.com)