Vacations – I Was Bikini / But Rain Afraid
Record Label: Record Label
Release Date: April 7, 2009
What happens when about half of a band goes on to start a new project? In the case of Vacations and their branching out from Chin Up Chin Up (who’ve just announced their last show) the results are very much as you would expect: Vacations is essentially Chin Up Chin Up Jr. But the group members wisely spiked the formula a bit with outside influences, making for an arty, Tortoise-flavored concoction. And besides, who didn’t like Chin Up Chin Up in the first place?
The above mentioned ‘outside influences’ stretch out pretty broadly, running the gamut of indie flourishes (including a pay-what-you-want price tag). You’ll find some reflection of the experimental, Animal Collective breed in “New Friends”, while “Hassle with Real” might bring to mind fellow Chicago experimentalists Make Believe. At its best, Vacations is a mash-up of everything the guys must have been listening to – try ”Sea Scenes for Sale”, which sounds like David Byrne hijacking King Crimson’s Discipline. At it’s worst, it’s repetitive – “Punk Bass” really just sounds like a less interesting version of “Hassle with Real” – but that really doesn’t bog down the album too much.
While I’ve often complained about front-loaded albums, and I’ve even seen the occasional back-loaded one, I Was Bikini / But Rain Afraid provides a rare example of what I would call the middle-loaded album. The first six songs build up in momentum until “Solar Tongue” hits, a bit Vampire Weekends and a bit Make Believe. Thus begins the albums peak stretch. Tracks 8-11 carry that weight, with “Elastic Boards” serving as the album’s biggest highlight – a nice take on The Loon-era Tapes ‘N Tapes. After that, the inertia is lost on the last couple of tracks. “With Cale” sort of floats along, while the closer “Looking for the Mountain” – although interesting – does nothing to expand on the best tracks.
Vacations have the type of energy that would translate well into a live setting, and you can tell that they had a great deal of fun recording these songs. Occasionally the album might lose the listener’s attention, but for every dull moment (of which there are a few), there are plenty more innovating, engaging ones to make up for it.
Recommended If You Like
Tortoise, Chin Up Chin Up, Make Believe