Tuesday, September 29, 2009

review: The Beached Margin/Done Waiting by I Was Totally Destroying It

Let's go ahead and make it clear that you'll be hearing a lot about I Was Totally Destroying It in the next few months (if you haven't already). Their album of two EPs, The Beached Margin/Done Waiting, was released in August and their new one, Horror Vacui drops in mid-October. Never gave this one a proper review, so here we go...

The Beached Margin/Done Waiting EPs

I Was Totally Destroying It
Greyday Records, 2009

I Was Totally Destroying It: "The Witch Riding Your Back"

It's kind of odd that Chapel Hill's I Was Totally Destroying It (IWTDI) crammed
The Beached Margin and Done Waiting together. Stylistically, the four songs of The Beached Margin is this atypical sandwich of the most melancholic songs the band has ever written. Thick with folktale metaphor, the EP glances at witches, wolves, and wolves blowing down houses. It's the air of frustration, where everything is a fog that can't be beaten, only escaped.

Though "The Witch Riding Your Back" is upbeat, there's a definite purpose to it--a force that lets you know that this going somewhere. Lead vocalists Rachel Hirsh and John Booker have resignation in their voice as they sing about a "hag of intimdation" and about the witch that they've never seen riding their backs and suffocating them. It's a lot different than the wistfulness for simpler days in songs like "My Favorite Haunt" or the breakdanceable "Hey Alright!"

"Fences," "Negative Agents" and "Me + All My Friends" discuss more about weaknesses, houses falling, dead friends and frantic movement with no forward progress. It does show maturity, I guess, a maturity that everything isn't always sweet tea and roses. But their jaded natureseems to come a little too easy, just like their jangly, awesome melodies of their self-titled debut invoke jealousy at their ease as well. It's obvious that lyricists Booker and Hirsh wear their hearts on their sleeves, luckily they have plenty of interesting melodies beating forth.

With the almost despairing songs of The Beached Margin, it's a relief to hear a mildly excitable song like "Done Waiting" on the 7 song EP of the same name. It delivers an awesome opening guitar melody and then the percussion and bass fill in nicely behind Hirsh's vocals. Like I said, these guys have POP oozing out of them and they can't help but be contagious.

But "Teeth" is more cautiously optimistic, "Get In Line" is a patient explanation of a bad relationship with yet an easy hook to pick up. Guess all I mean is that IWTDI is not so easily classifiable any more, this set of songs delivers on the awkwardness of telling others off, on sinful people, on the impossibility not remaining perfect.

But all this is only gleaned from the lyrics--because outside looking in, IWTDI throws a couple of curveballs, but overall maintains their snappy spunk. "The Masquerade" is a melancholy number that ends too abruptly and "Radar Song" seems like a great song, just probably not for this band with its hollowed confessional feel. I'm just glad they got all of this out of their system before
Horror Vacui. Maybe for that one we'll see a more balanced account.

I've read a lot of different comparisons for this band, but I always come back to the Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World with female flourishes. This is modern rock to its core, nothing offensively hard here--just straight catchy, guitar rock with its most potent pop formula.

The Beached Margin/Done Waiting doesn't lend itself to the many crowd pleasers of the self-titled, but its obviously not supposed to. There are some deeper machinations at work here and IWTDI in all of their prodigousness decided to share a bit of their frustrations with us instead of hiding these tapes in the deep, dark basement. But what's dark for IWTDI is just a little downer for the rest of us. They can't help but express themselves but except with a love for the upbeat.

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