The Format makes another strong step forward with the first track on this EP, â€œJanetâ€. The similarities to Rivers Cuomo and New Radicals are coupled with a solid bass line and a jangly guitar that will make residence in a listenerâ€™s brain for weeks. The inclusion of a synthesizer really imbues the track with a fullness that is unrivaled; everything just bursts in oneâ€™s ears, just like The Rocket Summer, and yet The Formatâ€™s wizened hand makes sure that the track is not too busy. In fact, The Format may just be to the mid-2000s what bands like Dishwalla and Blues Traveler were like to the mid-1990s; solid, well-played and catchy music that will bolster even in its most dejected moments. â€œSnailsâ€, the eponymous track on the disc starts off slowly (perhaps intentional, how better to start off a track titled after some of the slowest creatures) and largely is fueled by the chunky, plodding bass that is present on the track. The increased presence of slide guitars and vocal volume make for a nice doubling and a track, low-key as it might be really draws at oneâ€™s heartstrings.
The longer run-time of â€œSnailsâ€ may seem intimidating to some, but the beautiful vocals of Nate really make for a quickly-ending tracks. The three re-treats of tracks on the EP (including acoustic versions of â€œWait Wait Waitâ€, â€œTune Outâ€, and â€œOn Your Porchâ€ really continue well with the previous fare on the disc. In fact, the acoustic version of â€œWait Wait Waitâ€ has an ideological and aural predecessor in â€œSnailsâ€, even down to the exaggerated loudness of Nate. â€œWait Wait Waitâ€ seems almost too bare, almost as if some instruments, perhaps something like a violine or the slide present on the previous track, should be at the periphery. Still, the acoustic treatment of these tracks provides wonderful nods to continuity and allowances for Nateâ€™s rich vocals to really shine even more so than on â€œInterventions and Lullabiesâ€.
The inclusion of this disc when individuals buy â€œInterventions and Lullabiesâ€ really allow for the listeners to see two distinct sides of the band, sides that are both equally strong. The acoustic focus of this EP, coupled with masterful engineering and mixing really make this worth the exorbitant prices typical of EPs. â€œSnailsâ€ also provides a nice bridge to differing possibilities for The Formatâ€™s new full-length. The strength of â€œSnailsâ€ will only increase demand and a fanbase; this is surprisingly well-done.
Top Track: Wait Wait Wait
The Format â€“ Snails / 2005 Atlantic / 5 Tracks / http://www.theformat.com / http://www.atlanticrecords.com / Reviewed 18 April 2005