The A-B Theory – Illusions EP
Record Label: Action City Inc.
Release Date: During the early morning yawn of 2008
I sometimes picture life as a one of those puzzle games where you try to keep the silver ball out of the little holes. There’s a lot of quick, side-stepping triumphs. But, especially if you’re a middle class teenager, there are lots of black, scary voids. Each hole may represent the time since you last felt the touch of a female (still waiting!) or, depending on your medication, the last time you felt anything at all. There’s been one particular abyss I seem to be stuck inside, and that’s the ol’ one-and-done The Postal Service pulled on me a few years back. Countless times I’ve seen them in “sounds like” sections, but never have I really found an adequate substitute or usurper to their electro-pop throne. (I apologize to Jesse Smith. I’m sure he’s sick and tired of this comparison, but that’s how the bass beat bumps.) The A-B Theory, though, have me peering out of my dark little hole. Jesse Smith (the band’s only member) has clearly proven in these 6 songs that he knows how to write touching pop songs. He’s more than talented, whatever that means.
Illusions opens with “Tell Me How Colorado Is” and the lines, “She’ll never say that she loves me / It’s an inside joke between us.” Smith has plenty of witty moments and even more instances of intense honesty. His voice, as you probably guessed, is light, high-pitched and quite enjoyable. True, it’s all a bit “I wrote this in a coffee shop while it was raining,” but I think that’s part of the charm. His production skills are top-notch as the skittering beat does a good job counterbalancing the overwhelming pop tendencies, which is a longwinded way of saying: this is a fantastic track. Get into it. “A City Scene” features a simple keys and organ section that raises the track right out of the bedroom it was composed within. It’s not all about loneliness (which is a theme both lyrically and musically), though, as Smith occasionally drops lines like, “The working class learning that life’s just a bargain / While the rich men conspire ways to reach heaven.” He balances emotion with intelligence and, despite being surrounded by so many microchip-laden things, sounds wonderfully human.
“Ataraxia” is perhaps the most Postal Service-esque with its hyper strings and slightly industrial electronics. The lyrics also hit a high point here: “Is it so wrong that this makes me feel complete? / The ocean swallows every bad memory / To watch you die, love / Ignoring all your pleas / I miss your drab heartbeat.” And even when he drops a term like “acquiesce,” which, according to yours truly has something to do with the mating cycle of seals, Smith sounds authentic and never pretentious. “Alarm Clocks And Church Bells” features the most self-deprecating lyrics throughout Illusions. Smith wonders if he has “wasted” his time with this project over a snappy beat and burgeoning keyboard notes. Here’s the short of it, Mr. Smith: Heck No. The road ahead is brightly lit and (if you’re naïve) bump-free. However, after extensive time with Illusions, I have great faith in Smith. He can handle whichever Death Ditch™ the industry casts him into. The A-B Theory are going places and I’ll be one of the first to catch a ride. Going our way?
Recommended If You Like: The Postal Service, The Notwist eating Pixie Sticks, Mockinbird Station, PlayRadioPlay!, Northpark Mall
The re-release of this is going to come out either April 8th or 15th and feature a new song, a couple acoustic versions, possibly a cover song, and possibly a few demos of stuff Jesse did before The A-B Theory :) Also, expect some tour announcements soon!