Yearbook 2
Studio - Yearbook 2
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Yearbook 2

Although it's technically not the true follow-up to their debut full-length Yearbook 1, this collection of remixes and complete reworkings are drastically different enough from their originals that it's still probably fair to call it an album by Studio. Over the course of seven tracks they tackle everyone from the lesser-known proggy disco-pop types A Mountain Of One to mega-pop superstar Kylie, recasting everything in their mellow, expansive, and lush ways.

Right off the bat, I'll have to admit having heard the original version of only about half the songs on Yearbook 2, but based on the ones that I have heard and the distance that they've traveled before arriving on this release, I can only imagine that most have gone through similar re-structuring. For instance, the original version of Kylie's "2 Hearts" is a stomping vamp with a rather rocking full band and huge choruses, but here the group basically takes away all of the original instrumentation and completely re-builds things from the ground up with acoustic guitar, spacey synths, and a clomping beat. The vocals themselves get turned down a notch and isolated a great deal more, making the song go in basically a 180-degree different direction than the original.

Love Is All gets a similar treatment as their synth-rock "Turn The Radio Off" is stretched out into over ten minutes of lush guitar phrases, soft polyrhythms, and the requisite warm synths that hover somewhere between nostalgia-kissed and super-corny. Brennan Green gets a nearly ten-minute reworking as well, as the appropriately-named "Escape From Chinatown" finds Studio turning in a cinematic gem that might as well be playing behind a moody sequence as it somehow mixes urgency (endlessly repeated bass arpeggios) with a sort of laid-back feel (curling steel guitar) before locking into a more frenetic closing third.

In my opinion, the album standout is the beautiful reworking of "Room Without A Key" by Rubies. While the original bumps up against radio-friendly pop ala Feist, Studio as usual isolate the elements that fit their sound the best (in this case, breathy wordless vocals) and then build up an entirely new song around it with incredibly catchy intertwining guitar/synth melodies, horns, and a stair-stepping bassline that drives everything along without being too pushy. And really, one could say that about any of their pieces, as seven songs run a leisurely hour in length, yet never really feel like they're testing the patience at all. As mentioned above, this is technically a remix release, but the changes are so drastic that it's about as close as you can get to a new Studio album for now.

rating: 7.7510
Aaron Coleman 2008-12-25 19:57:46