October 27, 2003

Meeting Places "Find Yourself Along the Way"

Meeting Places' debut album leaves me utterly breathless. In life, there are imitators and innovators. Imitators imitate--and sometimes they do it quite well--but they offer up nothing original. Some can add their own sense of style, but often they fail to do anything more than rehash somebody else's ideas, without coming up with one single idea that they can call their own. It's nothing that's to be fretted over, though; everybody has at least one or two inspirations that they borrow from--and innovation often comes from imitation. After all, innovation is derived from taking elements of the familiar and making something new from it.

On first listen, it's pretty clear that Meeting Places take their inspiration from the British musical trends of 1989-1994. True, their sound owes much to the dreampop/shoegazer world of yore, but don't let that put you off. Their sound may be rooted in the past, but Find Yourself Along the Way is a very forward-thinking record, so at least they're not going to give you Loveless, pt. 2. Even more importantly, you really can't find any moment that reeks of one particular band, either. Besides, you really can't go wrong with Find Yourself Along The Way. Big guitars? Yup, they've got 'em. Haunting melodies? In spades. Blissed-out crooning that could easily lull you into a deep, deep sleep? Yeah, there's plenty of that as well. Heck, you could package lead singer Chase Harris' voice as a narcotic sleep aid and nobody would be the wiser.

Throwing all of these styles together produced some really, really excellent songs. From the pulsating beat of "Take To The Sun" and "Blur the Lines" to the slowed-down drone of "Where you Go" and "Freeze Our States," Meeting Places takes you through their foggy and possibly drugged-up musical world, and you're all the better for it. That they do so without ever looking up from their shoes is even more impressive. They even make you momentarily forget about all of those bands who came before, whose names become mythical with each passing year: Ride, Chapterhouse, Pale Saints, Adorable...

This leads me to my one concern: the future. Find Yourself Along The Way is an impressive debut, but how will they top it? Surely a continuation of these ideas would be good, but would it? Now is the time for personal growth and for discovery of the depths of your muse, guys. I'd hate for them to get caught in a lull and drown from the pressure of doing something new. But, then again, I shouldn't worry; they'll come up with something, and if it's anything like the majestic heights and blissful flights of this album, then we will definitely be in for a major musical treat.

--Joseph Kyle

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