Tuesday, August 23, 2005
This on-and-off Kansas City band vividly recalls flagship indie bands like Slint, Codeine and June of 44 as well as retired KC peer-bands like Shiner and Giants Chair.
Lead singer/songwriter Andrew Ashby sings with a weary drawl reminiscent of Centromatic's Will Johnson, a songwriter he's openly expressed reverence for. The String and Return specialize in Johnson's push/pull brand of beauteous guitar rock, weaving dissonant yet visceral melodies that pack as much into the empty spaces as the tear-inducing riffs.
"What Cheer" charms more and more with each spin, positioning instantly appealing numbers like "It's True" alongside the borderline math rock of "Brace Yourself" and cello-sweetened acoustic numbers like "Still Proud."
The record's title is misleading, as "What Cheer" mostly dwells in comatose tempos and morphine-addled vocal inflections. But what it lacks in "cheer" it more than makes up in melancholy, and for those kind of days it's good to have a kindred spirit in The String and Return.