Signals Midwest - Latitudes and Longitudes
Record Label - Tiny Engines
Release Date - January 10, 2012
I was trying to find a way to classify a band like Signals Midwest for the introduction of this review, yet the words were eluding me in a way to which the jumbling of genres for some mashed up, beyond recognition classification seemed more and more unnecessary. This isn’t to say this is a band dabbling in unknown territory, as Latitudes and Longitudes takes familiar parts and makes something a bit more intriguing out of the dynamic punk-rock tinged tracks here. But in the execution of these often energetic tunes, our familiarity welcomes us like a doorman to Signals Midwest’s fun yet occasionally gritty licks of punk rock vocals meets melodically-inclined songwriting. It is only fair to say tracks like “Family Crest” harken more of the pop-punk side of the spectrum while “Limnology” brings a Balance and Composure dynamic to slices of the tracks, showing the versatility this band has even within their own sound.
That isn’t to say there isn’t an element of consistency in what these guys do. From front to back, it’s tough to deny the tendency for steady tempos and a healthy amount of melody to boot. “Monarchs” introduces itself with a fun, if slightly off-center rhythm before kicking into some of the catchier, if slightly misguided passages of the album, while “I Was Lost” is a repetition-inclined track that introduces and brings back musical ideas in slightly different ways with middle of the road results. It is on this track where those tangents of guitar licks and left-field rhythmic shifts help keep your head in mix instead of wandering outside of it. I feel like I may have just contradicted myself, but in listening to Latitudes and Longitudes, you’ll hear when it makes sense for these instrumental offshoots to take place and when they sour the mood instead.
“The Quiet Persuader” is straightforward for the most part though, brandishing an accented section that would work pretty well as the track’s chorus since most of this song focuses on one rhythmic idea and goes full-steam ahead in the structure department. The acoustic driven “January & Seven” is conventionally constructed by nature, but in its swells and builds executes just as well as anything else on Latitudes and Longitudes – even when the electric guitars kick in. While it is certainly intriguing and at times necessary to add the spices of twists and turns into the songwriting process, sometimes they just can’t all be pulled off with the same confidence or have the same impact, as the messy quickness of parts littered throughout “Memo” show.
In short, Latitudes and Longitudes is solid enough to garner a listen, but it might not hit the mark in every guitar-slathered interlude. Kudos to this band for attempting to push themselves a bit though, as there is an underlying drive for sincerity on this record – whether you’re into forward-thinking punk rock or gritty indie jams.