Animal Kingdom :: The Looking Away

AnimalKingdom-TheLookingAwayThis indie rock band released their first record back in 2008 with Signs and Wonders. Now four years later, this north London trio, consisting of Richard Sauberlich (vocals, guitar, piano), Hammish Crombie (bass), and Geoff Lea (drums), have released their second album, titled The Looking Away.

The album has a melancholic tone, not unlike their first record. With subtlety and a common formula, their songs range in tempo from rolling up-beat to quiet and minimal.

The opening track, ‘The Wave’, swells and ebbs with an earthy, driving beat, provided by drummer Lea, while Sauberlich’s vocals are multiplied to create the vast expanse.

‘Get Away with It’, the second track, is a song about misdirection: “Look at this hand but / not at this one”. However, the misdirection is not about mere magic tricks, but is regarding the growing amount of wealth in a small minority, through backdoor means, while the vast majority are being squeezed into poverty. And while the track may be about a significant issue, the tone of the song is a kind of sugary-pop, supported by head-bouncing rhythms.

Bassist Crombie stands out on ‘Glass House’, with his own attention-getting melody line, allowing for a new focal point, away from Sauberlich’s lead vocals – almost a relief, as the majority of the tracks are built around a similar formula of simple lyrics and a somber, well-groomed tone.

Straw Man’, is one track away from this formula. It is a slow march-like tune, with dreamy or even cosmic tones. Notes similar to Radiohead’s ‘Nice Dream’ add subtle detailing, as the song creates an almost final farewell that is steady and simple. And ‘Skipping Disc’ is one for those lazy Saturday afternoons. With its laidback, nostalgic vibe, it’s one for those inevitable hot summer days that will induce a gentle toe tap.

While the album will appeal to those who frequently listen to bands like Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Coldplay and the like, The Looking Away leaves me to wonder where are the animals? The album doesn’t roar! In fact, it lacks much dynamic change in mood, and it seems to develop from a place of melancholy and observation. I wonder what their music will sound like when the boys take charge and some action.

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