The sound of the disc’s first real track “In Tech Knee Color” is similar to the jangly alternative rock of times gone by. There seems to be a little bit of a too-episodic nature to this track, as the band continually goes back to the same few arrangements time and time again through its runtime. The chunky bass of “How’d You Find Me” really is reminiscent of Albini-produced Nirvana, while the Interpol-like vocals of Eugene look to something more contemporary, perhaps even in the Interpol vein of things. The same brand of repetition is only magnified during “How’d You Find Me”, which really puts the band behind the eight ball extremely early on in this CD. “A Hero Can’t Be Built” moves away from this episodic sound and really allows the band to tell a story with their music.
This narrative is really able to succeed with thoughtful arrangement and a desire to look into the future instead of expend all their energy on the current period. Moving into a style that sounds like a mixture of Matthew Sweet and Weezer for “Birdie”, The Human Echo look back about a decade to create a track that perfectly blends old and new. The only thing that is problematic about “Birdie” is the track’s extreme length; couple that with a Velvet Underground brand of slowness in the track that immediately follows it (A Song For A Remarkable Person) and there is created a palpable sloth. “Sonic Blanket” fails to really innovate or excite with further sleeps like “Something”; while there is a strong sense that The Human Echo know what they are doing, there is a very distinct sense that the band is holding themselves back from where they wish to go.
The band can do the set-up of the tracks well, but it is only shown a few times on “Sonic Blanket” that they are able to really transition into something greater. One of these times occurs during “Plastic Smile”, a track that moves from bright to dark and from light to heavy seemingly at the drop of the track. Finally coming out of their shell for “Sonic Blanket”, there seems to be a fullness to the track that is not to be found anywhere else on the disc. There are some good things about The Human Echo, but they are not of a large enough quality to really pull this disc up further. Look for their new album and give it a listen, though. Methinks one will be pleasantly surprised.
Top Tracks: A Song For A Remarkable Person, Plastic Smile
The Human Echo – Sonic Blanket
The Human Echo – Sonic Blanket / 2004 Spiral Box / 11 Tracks / http://www.thehumanechoband.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / Reviewed 05 November 2005