Limbeck - Self-Titled
Release: April 10, 2007
All right, I'll admit that SoCal can put out pretty good country records. Being from Texas it's hard to admit this; we hold our country singers in high regard. But when listening to Limbeck's new self-titled album, I have to concede that it's probably one of the best alternative country albums of the year, if you exclude the new Bright Eyes record. With their heavily melodic and road-trip worthy debut, Hi, Everything' Great, Limbeck put themselves into a scene that wasn't too filled with decent artists, or known artists for that matter. However, with their new self-titled album, it is clear Limbeck have drifted more into the bar-alternative-country genre, and in doing so have created a very solid album that rarely wanders from their tried and true formula of creating songs that you listen to when you get into your car, a little buzzed from the couple of drinks you had at the bar inside. By combining sounds of a "Get Back" version of The Beatles, the happy rock of the Beach Boys and Belle and Sebastian, as well as their own signature country sound, Limbeck rarely falters, but also rarely stands out as overly impressive.
The album opens with a song that pretty much gets the listener going as fast as they should be going to listen to the entire album. "Trouble" doesn't try to stand out or wow the listener with anything fancy; the guitar work is solid but unflatteringly subtle, Robb McLean's vocals are rough and on-key but don't soar, the drums are simplistic but effective, and the backup vocals are complimentary but don't take over. The next song, "Big Drag," is much like "Trouble," exhibiting the consistency of Limbeck without accentuating any of the faults or the wowing strengths that rarely show themselves on the album. Ultimately, "big Drag" and "Trouble" pretty much dictate the sound of the last half of the album with some differences. "Reading the Street Signs," "Let's Get Crazy," "Your Friends," and "Friends" sound a lot alike, with slight differences in tempo and instrumentation; "Street signs" features a slide guitar that is well executed, and "Friends" features a horn section that is also well done. The album, in this way is well produced, featuring slight texturization with each of the instruments, some varied dynamics and a good amount of extra instruments that don't overpower the listener but rather refresh them.
The stronger tracks on the album, however, are when Limbeck tries to vary their dancehall country sound quite a bit, go back to their Hi, Everything's Great sound, or just plain execute a song that works better than the others. "Let Me Come Home" is the best country song on the album, a not entirely different but refreshing sound by the third track, and Limbeck are found at their best here. It combines enough alternative, such as Wallflowers keys and electric guitars, to satisfy listeners. "Bird Problems" is a slower and more barroom take on ther country song and its works surprisingly well. These two songs also find McLean at his lyrical best: they are pep-talk songs about being on the road, messages to McLean himself that resonate with the listener. "Bird Problems" also highlights McLean's narrative excellence; he is a strong purveyor of lyrics that accurately and poetically describe his surroundings.
"Keeping Busy" finds Limbeck going back to Hi, Everything's Great for one last hurrah. Featuring McLean's best song about a girl and yet still about the road lyrics, Limbeck pull out their best melodic side on the album, accentuated with a Springsteen keyboard barely audible in the background. It is a natural, efficient and strong progression from their debut, and it shows Limbeck haven't forgotten where they're from. The album closes is efficient, but not wowing, fashion with the five-minute long runner "Sunset Limited," which is the closest your going to get to HEG's "In Ohio on Some Steps."
Overall, Limbeck's self-titled third album finds them completely and efficiently dedicated to the country craft that is just a little bit off Texas-sized barroon songs. They combine the happy-indie rock sound of SoCal with the alt-country of The Wallflowers, along with Beatles and Beach Boy tinges to create a pleasing ans satisfying album for their fans, but one that probably won't wow new fans. They did that on Hi, Everything's Great, so why need to do it now? Limbeck is a strong album from the traveling band, and when McLean says in "Your Story:"
"selfish, no not selfish/
I'd say I'm a pretty nice dude"
and you believe him, because he has created a tame but solid album that makes him look like a pretty talented, to say the least nice, dude.
2. Big Drag
3. Let Me Come HOme
4. Bird Problems
5. Keeping Busy
6. Reading the Street Signs
7. Wake Up
8. Let's Get Crazy
9. Your Story
11. Sunset Limited
Nice review, though I think this album isn't NEARLY as accesible upon first listen as their previous two. Also you didn't really mention Let Me Come Home or their first (the name escapes). But very nice review otherwise.