January 22, 2003

Experimental Aircraft "Love For The Last Time"

This record has been quite loved for the past few days; it's been on constant rotation, and with good reason. It's utterly gorgeous!

Okay, okay, I know you really want/need more description than that, and I'll try, because I don't want to be long-winded about it, nor do I want to be too brief about what Experimental Aircraft are doing. Shoegazing is a term that's misunderstood in large part because the "style" has been terribly abused. Many bands substituted loudness for talent, and in so doing they killed the great works of others, never realizing that their greatest musical achievement could never be as good as the worst moments of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, or Pale Saints.

Love For The Last Time sounds like the end product of a few warm and hazy Austin afternoons spent smoking pot and listening to Lush records, because this is a most mellow record. Occasionally, Experimental Aircraft get loud and noisy, but it's a very sublime racket; listen to "Contemplative Silence" and you'll hear a band that's made loud the new quiet. Just one listen to "Symphony" will tell you that they're using layers of noise in a symphonic manner. It's only on "Seasick" that Experimental Aircraft get really, really loud; falling near the middle of the record, it's a welcome wake-up from the blissing out that you've just experienced. At times, Experimental Aircraft sound like they've summoned up the spirit of early Lush--which, believe me, is not a bad thing in my book!

What really makes Love For the Last Time excellent is the clash between noise and beauty, the beauty being the gorgeous vocals of Rachel Staggs. Her voice is so sweet, it should be illegal. When it's combined with the music, it makes the noise seem tame, yet dangerous. Guitarist TJ O'Leary's singing provides a nice yin to her yang. He's just as doped-out in his singing, and when he joins Staggs on "Elephant," it feels like you're in the presence of a shoegazing Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood.

Experimental Aircraft have made a beautiful record; the fact that they've done so in a genre that's overpopulated and overwrought with mediocrity is even more impressive. Love For the Last Time is very strong record from start to finish, with not one weak spot. Take the time to seek it out; you'll be glad that you did, because you'll have just spent thirty-nine minutes with one of the best records of this year (last year if you're a release-date purist).

--Joseph Kyle

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