Welcome to the Cinema - Blocks and Hills
Record Label: None
Release Date: August 26, 2008
From time to time, you find a band that manages to make you want to do something; a band that brings the realization that there is something missing in your world. The first time I listened to Bright Eyes, I wanted to get up and do something with my life. Jimmy Eat World made me want to go start a band. Say Anything made me want to leave my shitty town.
Welcome To The Cinema made me want to dance.
While not as a substantial claim or feat as the rest, it is what South Dakota band Welcome To The Cinema do best. With all of the songs on this album, Blocks and Hills, under or around two to three minutes, each one is highly paced, frenzied almost, bringing the entire album neatly under the 30-minute mark, each track showing a subtle change from the norm.
The opening track, “Weekend at the Hampton,” sounds like something The Strokes would have played during their early years. A catchy guitar riff repeats throughout the majority of the song, creating a rhythmic backing to front man Darin Dahlmeier’s atypically delivered vocals. Highlight of the album, “Shark vs. Boat,” shows the band covering new territory with a frenetic rock song that is very heavy on bass and guitar, contrasting greatly with the jaunty bounce and swagger of “Ireland.”
The weak points of the album seem to come from the lower tempo songs. “Holy Ghost” is a slow tempo, repetitive track that seems to drag on after the first minute, despite some of the finer lyrics on the album, and “The Sound of Thinking” remains dull until the chorus kicks in, although praise is due for the band through trying to add diversity to a mainly high speed album. Album closer “Must Be Love” provides a seemingly Prozac-fueled, off-beat stomp, working as a wonderful closing track to an engaging album.
The music is tight, filled with percussive beats and meticulously placed keyboards and guitars, making the album flow seamlessly. Dahlmeier’s agitated vocal delivery may polarize some listeners and is an acquired taste, but they work perfectly on nearly every song. The lyrics, while not poetic or wholly eloquent, are remembered almost instantly and are useful devices for telling the stories of the band, be it looking for love in Ireland or an all-healing potion only found in the ocean (which, surprisingly, works within the song's context).
An album filled with indie sensibilities, guitar ostinatos, and pulsing drums, Blocks And Hills combines all three in a fun, captivating way, providing a glimpse into the potential of Welcome To The Cinema. If you're up for dancing and chanting, this is the album for you.