October 26, 2004

Absinthe Blind "Winning Is Our Business and Business Is Good"

Champaign, Illinois' Absinthe Blind were one of those great bands you never heard about. Led by members of the Fein family, this sibling group blended indie-rock with Britpop and shoegazer, mixed it all together with a great deal of melody and stunning atmosphere resulting in obscure album after album of really beautiful music. Their last album, Rings, was easily their best; that it was their final farewell makes the album's excellence even more frustrating. It should have been a bigger album; it should have been one that established Absinthe Blind as more than a really good regional band. It didn't; leader Adam Fein left the band, and they regrouped as Headlights.

Winning Is Our Business and Business Is Good is a wrap-up of the band's loose ends; this double Cd-R package is a labor of love from the band, and is a fitting farewell. That it's compiled on handmade cd-roms with printed-up sleeves only adds to the intimate, labor-of-love feel that made the band so likeable in the first place. It doesn't really seem right that the band would have to revert to such budget-string tactics, especially considering the quality of their music, but such is the fickle nature of this business. It's a shame, for if any record deserves lush packaging, it's this one; there should be an ornate cover with detailed history and photographs and recollections and song descriptions...but alas, it is not to be.

But where to begin? There's plenty of ground to cover, but, ultimately, the sound always remained the same. Like all good bands, they occasionally experimented with their sound, but they never strayed from their post-shoegaze Britpop-inspired dreampop style. From loud, powerful rockers, such as outtake "So You're The Hero" and B-Side "Doing Exactly What You Want" to quiet, atmospheric acoustic numbers (witness the title track, "Worth The Time" and "Phoenix") to blissed-out numbers that were heavy on both power and beauty ("Orphans,""Small")--they could handle it all. Heck, even two risky dance remixes--"It's Your Life"and "The Threat" (based on "The Truth That Paints Your Eyes" and "Do You Know What You Mean To Me, respectively) work quite well. The only time the collection really falters are on the good-but-you-shoulda-been-there-instead live covers of "Shout" and "Don't You Forget About Me." They're well-performed, but in this collection, they seem out of place.

So as the final chapter of Absinthe Blind closes, a new one begins; from the remnants of their career, Winning Is Our Business and Business Is Good not only shows that Headlights have a lot of work ahead of them if they wish to better Absinthe Blind's greatest heights, but it also gives ample evidence that they should have no problem carrying the torch. A fond, fitting farewell to a really great band.

--Joseph Kyle

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

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