The Book of Lists – Red Arrows (CD)

The Book of Lists really feel as if they come out of the early-nineties alternative scene. This album starts off with “Through Stained Glass”, and it honestly feels as if Depeche Mode, The Smiths and R.E.M. sat down for a bonfire. Not quite college-rock, the lightly-tinted (with grunge) style of music that The Book of Lists play maintain a relevancy even as the tracks tend to look back. For example, “Pacifist Revolt” uses the very confident and simple guitar work of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” while couching it in the new yet retro-rock of The Vines and Jet.

With a solid mastering showcasing what is already impressive musicianship of The Book of Lists, each track is its own gem. This individuality is what gets the band in trouble; for me, there seems to be little in cohesion amongst the six tracks on this EP. “Becoming Forgettable” is much more brooding than any of the previous track, letting the tension snowball before expressing that energy during the chorus. What exists on “Red Arrows” is a disc full of euphonic tracks but tracks that suffer with deepness of meaning. Thus, the tracks sound good but they are not really emotionally affecting, whether it be by the music or the lyrics themselves. Finally bring some emotional gravity to their “Neurosis”, The Book of Lists (through the incredibly fitting bass lines of Laura Piasta and almost-vocal quality of guitars) really begin to expand their sound after a minor rut. The Bauhaus-esque vocals that are such a major part of “Sweet Malady” make this a bi-polar goth-rock track; on the one hand there are the goth vocals recreated to a T by Chris, but also the same jangly guitar and emotive bass that have been on and off throughout the disc.

The tracks are compelling in an audible sense, but everything is given the same treatment to such a degree that it really becomes hard to pick a “stand-out” track. Deciding what exactly is missing from the band was something challenging (to say the least). Perhaps it is the inability of Chris’ vocals to break free from the wall of sound that surrounds them; perhaps it is the all-mixed-up sound created by this wall of sound – something is rotten in the state of Vancouver. It is not a major issue in the least; The Book of Lists is one of the better bands doing this style of pop/indie-rock at this period, but something just does not allow the band to click completely with their listeners.

Top Track: Through Stained Glass

Rating: 5.8/10

The Book of Lists – Red Arrows / 2005 Global Symphonic / 6 Tracks / / Reviewed 24 June 2005

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