Age Rings: Black Honey

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Age Rings

Black Honey

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Black Honey is one of the very best records of 2011. Even so, it’s hard to envision a version of the record that doesn’t begin with the amusingly self-defeating “Rock And Roll Is Dead” and end with the paralyzingly affecting “Caught Up In The Sound.” The former tune bursts open with volleys of discordant notes before charting a verse with a melody that doesn’t quite resolve. The chorus establishes a blissfully noisy center amid handclaps and a bed of what sounds like low brass. This one song is so perfectly realized that you start to understand where the months and years went while Age Rings was making the record. But there’s still a lot of record to go, and it is all equally as brilliant. Album closer “Caught Up In The Sound” is perhaps Black Honey’sbiggest treasure. The tune touts a momentum and inevitability — underlined by the fact that the verses and choruses drone into each other — that renders the love-stung vocal even more poignant. It’s a devastating final track; it’s a huge artistic achievement.

Remarkable moments appear at every turn in Black Honey: the brilliant swerve of the tape slowing the final moments of “Ender” through various keys only to resolve into a slow groove for the final minute; the twisting slur of the lyric “I smoke Parliament menthols /watch Headbangers Ball” in the opening number; the unhinged falsetto at the tail end of “Big Black Hole.” The collection can also be vibrantly lucid, particularly the understated and downbeat travelogue “Ups And Downs” that features Gibbardian narration about bad times like “a crowd gathered outside when I got kicked out of The Middle East, I left my car and called a cab, told the driver ‘Quincy.’” “Head Up High” has an undeniable chorus studded with a bright piano melody that will never leave you.

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MDRF023 | NOV 2011 | 56:54 | FULL LENGTH MP3 ALBUM
SONG TITLE DURATION LISTEN
Rock And Roll Is Dead 4:49
Big Black Hole 4:06
Important Guy 3:58
So It Revolves 4:33
Ups And Downs 2:53
Under The Rug 3:24
Lemonade 4:21
Head Up High 3:52
Explode Me 3:53
Black Honey 4:10
Infinity Minor 5:22
Ender 4:22
Sorry I’m Late 2:50
Caught Up In The Sound 4:28