The Format – Interventions and Lullabies (CD)

Curiously enough how I was introduced to The Format first was through their first single, “The First Single”. While I’m not sure examply if the title of that track is prescient or just bragging, the track mixes the best of the New Radicals, U2, Midnight Oil, and makes the track sound intensely familiar without being completely clichéd. The sound on “Interventions and Lullibies” is masterfully crafted, allowing for a perfect balance between musicianship and the pop sound that is created through the twelve cuts on the disc. “Give It Up” mixes Weezer and Ben Folds, using a plinky type of guitar and Zevon-esque guitars to increase emotional involvement in the track. In fact, “Give It Up” seems like the bands off-kilt tribute to Warreon Zevon, in that it has Nate’s vocals tautly lie over a dynamic in which the guitar and piano fight for supremacy. The strong bass presence in “Tie The Rop” makes for a dance-like feel, one that is amplified by the back-beat of a very Red Hot Valentines-oriented synthesizer. Of course, the alternative-rock guitars of Sam come back in a strong way during the chorus, but the continued experimenting with their general sound ensures for a lack of complacency on the disc.

By far, the largest leap on “Interventions and Lullibies” comes with the time-traveling “Tune Out”, which owes as much to Three Dog Night and Chicago as it does to Weezer and the Smoking Popes. “I’m Ready, I Am” is a pretty weak outing, only relying on past success to make a very weak case for why the band should be allowed to continue. The acoustic “On Your Porch” is just another singer-songwriter track save for the masterful drone and the key dual-harmony contained on the disc. The extreme length of “On Your Porch” destroys any momentum that The Format may have had pre-track, but “Sore Thumb” goes far in restoring the rock-star-like energy of the band, owing much to sizzling guitars and hastily spat-out lyrics.

“Interventions and Lullabies” was a surprise out of left field. Where I was expecting an all-acoustic, frat-rock type of band, I was greeted with an extremely talented act that is never afraid of experimenting. Elektra has gotten the jump on a band that I am absolutely sure will be a force for the next decade, and “Interventions and Lullabies” might just be the best album that the label puts out for all of 2004.

Top Tracks: A Mess To Be Made, The First Single

Rating: 8.5/10

The Format – Interventions and Lullabies / 2004 Elektra / 12 Tracks / / / Reviewed 26 September 2004

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