Limited Sight Distance
After many a listen, I've come to the conclusion that Limited Sight Distance (LSD! Get it!) wants to create something that's just a little left of mainstream, but they end up toeing back over the line in most cases for some reason or another. Although the band really only has two full-time members (Stephanie Fix and Kevin McMahon), it features a rotating cast of musicians from groups as widely varied as Mercury Rev and Varnaline. The elements are all there, including experimental percussion and samples, along with other nice touches, but they're buried in the background on most tracks.
It's not to say that the group needs to go full-on experimental to be interesting, but a fine example is the opening track of "So Much Trouble." After an opening of reverbed metal pots and pans and a nice little guitar riff, the track unfurls into a super bass-heavy groove with rather overdramatic vocals by Fix that push the song closer to the subtlety of an early Alanis Morrisette track (that is to say, not very) than something I'd expect from a group containing the members that it does. A couple times in the track, some deserted-island guitar melodies drift into the mix, but they're pushed so far back under the bass and drums that their beauty is lost.
If the first track is overstated, it's the second where the group actually pulls off what I thought they'd be capable of before I'd heard a note of their music. "Cynical Eyes" mixes filtered vocals with far-off radio broadcasts and all kinds of subtle guitars and atmospherics. It's lush without being overpowering and has enough breathing room that individual elements in the track are allowed to explore their own spaces. Hands down, it's the best track on the disc.
The last two tracks are both better than the first, but not quite as good as the second. "Maybe" builds from a musical whisper to a gorgeous crescendo of sound, while the closing track of "It's Only Me" mixes warm mellotron with slide guitar and upright bass for a back porch feel. While the music on both tracks is excellent, the vocals again pop right to the front of the mix, overpowering many of the instrumental intricacies contained within. The vocals themselves aren't horrible, but they're definitely on the dramatic side, and it while they fit with the rather overwhelming style of the first track, they feel at odds with the last half of the disc (whereas on the second track, they fit like a glove). As a debut, the four tracks show promise, the band just needs to decide which direction they want to take.