July 25, 2004

Model A "Transmission Lost"

The first moments of "The Wasted Line" on Model A's debut record, Transmission Lost had me thinking that I was about to face some heavy-duty metal. With an overwhelming laser-cannon firing sound effect that gives rise to a rumbling bassline, it was easy for me to assume that I was about to be knocked down by some massive heavy metal thunder. It's quite obvious that these guys have got some chops, and just from these first few seconds, it becomes painfully clear that the guys in Model A are about to pummel me.

The minute the vocals kick in, I realize that my assessment wasn't that far off. At the three minute mark, I realize that though I'm listening to metal, it's a metal that's infused with a great deal of Prog. Of course, this is due to the fact that the lead singer has a sweet, angelic falsetto that instantly reminds of Rush's Geddy Lee. The song is grand, sweeping and emotionally powerful, and after one listen, I'm spent. It's a most powerful seven minutes, and not one minute is wasted. But, see, there's a problem--that's just the first epic of the record. (All but two of these songs break the five minute mark.) The next song, "Chimera," is more of the same and clocks in at eight minutes, but unlike the first track, Model A ambles on with a calmer pulse and even sweeter singing. The rest of Transmission Lost follows this very basic formula of loud rock meets calming sheets of sound meets loud bursts of noise meets even softer bursts of singing.

What makes this enjoyable little record a little bit frustrating is that the band goes from formulaic to to mindblowing constantly, and just when I think I'm about to be bored with hearing something I've just heard a few times already and something terribly cliche, they break out with something new, something calming, something unexpected, and my ears perk up. Just when I think I'm about to write them off as doing the Rush thing, they slow it down and give something that's more poppy, and just when I think they've got a sweet tooth for pop, they turn around and dive further into the prog-rock groove, and then they turn around and give a blend that's all of these things and more--and when you reach "Telling" and "Le Berceau du Bonheur," they throw all of those styles away and go for a sound that's indebted to 4ad circa 1986!

Confusing? It is a little bit, yes, but I really don't mind. Though their search for a sound they can call their own might make for frustrating reviewing, that doesn't take away from the fact that Transmission Lost is a really beautiful record, one that's full of pretty music and powerful moments that are both quiet and loud, and that's all that matters, really, isn't it?

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.modelamusic.com

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