A Perfect Kiss - The Olympians
Record Label: Point Five Limey Records
Release Date: December 17, 2004
I was introduced to the now-defunct A Perfect Kiss at a concert several years ago. On The Olympians, their second full-length release, the Annapolis, Mayland-based quartet combine a profane number of effects pedals with songwriting influenced heavily by the early emo-ore/post-hardcore sound.
The introductory track, "Bottom of the Sunrise," begins with slow, ethereal guitar notes that are quickly joined by the rhythm section. This song introduces a good representation of the band's style: long, epic songs with highly technical, effects-laden instrumentation backing Justin Lloyd's singing and the occasional impeccably-placed line or two of screaming. The vocals bear a notable resemblance to Sunny Day Real Estate, an influence that was much more prevalent on the band's debut release, In Spite of Angels.
After eight or so minutes the opener concludes, leading into the serene, striking "A Memory Less Traveled." It is possibly the band's best display of mastery over the ballad form, while showcasing one of the album's many innovative drum pieces. A soaring climax concludes the song and leads seamlessly into the next track.
"D-up! (In Chapel Hill)" begins with the clapping and shouting of an audience and a series of blips from dual effects-drenched guitars. Where "A Memory Less Traveled" shows that the band can handle the intricate, here they display an impressive aptitude at the more energetic end of the spectrum. This talent is demonstrated again two tracks later in "The End Wasted," easily the most fun and upbeat piece on the record.
The album's lyrics are image-laden and often opaque, but the images they convey can be quite vivid, and at his best Lloyd delivers them quite effectively. There are moments when the album's vocals could be stronger, but at other points they capture the intended feeling flawlessly. The album does become a little long-winded around the two-thirds mark, and listeners looking to sing along may be put of by an abundance of long instrumental sections. But those willing to navigate those portions will be pleased to find that the instrumentation certainly stands on its own, and on repeat listens these sweeping, ethereal portions become one of the album's greatest strengths. But if you find your attention wandering throughout these sections, the last three songs will be sure to reclaim it, and will not lose their hold till the album's closing notes.
"Once" is the first entirely instrumental track on the album, driven by a breathtaking guitar melody. It lasts just under three minutes before a shout shatters its stillness, leading into the chaotic, brilliantly dynamic "=." All the band's members showcase their considerable talents here, and excellent use of layered vocals contributes greatly to what is arguably the strongest track on the disc. In its wake, the closer "Always" picks up where "Once" was interrupted, closing out the album with a progression of the same guitar melody underscored by minimalist electronic chirps and blips.
Sadly, both the band and its former label have disbanded, but The Olympians is available for digital purchase on the band's Myspace page. Though there are certainly portions where the album could be more concise, the strength of its instrumentation and its near-infinite staying power are more than reason enough to overlook these faults. If you are even remotely interested in the band after reading this review, you owe it to yourself to give them a listen.
ugh, i might've checked it out... but did they seriously name one of their songs "d-up in chapel hill"? that's just terrible... maybe i'm ridiculous and take sports too seriously, but i feel like they might have alienated a lot of non-tarheel fans...
I haven't listened to In Spite as much. I got this record first on the advice of whoever was running their merch table the first time I saw them, and while I followed the band their shows were comprised almost entirely of Olympians material. So I'm kind of biased.