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City Vs Country EP

The Mobius Band
City Vs Country EP
(Ghostly International)

The Mobius Band formed around the turn of the century and hit the ground running with a debut EP that mixed experimental with pop sounds and lo-fi indie with electronics in a way that felt natural. They followed up that release with 2 more EPs (aptly titled Two EP and Three EP) that worked the same sort of sound to varying degrees of success. At times, the group seemed like they were on the cusp of something amazing, and at other times their sonic experiments just didn't quite gel.

A couple years later, the group is back with yet another EP, and this time they've made a jump up in terms of getting on a larger label. In the meantime, the group played shows with everyone from Broken Social Scene to Mouse On Mars and refined their sound to this current incarnation. Instead of moving towards a more experimental or electronic realm, The Mobius Band has opted in the opposite direction, leaning down a bit towards a more straightforward electronic-touched indie-rock band. Although Ghostly International has released albums by the likes of Dykehouse and Midwest Product, this is also their most straightforward song-oriented effort yet.

The change in the groups sound can be viewed as either a good thing or a bad one, depending on what you found appealing in their music before. As mentioned above, the group has stripped out most of their previous tinkerings (that ranged from ambient to kraut) in favor of something that falls much more in line with work by groups like The Doves. At the same time, the group has gotten much stronger in terms of actual song composition, lyrics, and even melodically. The EP opener of "Starts Off With A Bang" is a highlight in all of the aforementioned areas as electronic flutters drift through a drum-machine and live drum rhythm section while lyrics highlight the ennui of everyday life so well.

Both "Multiply" and "Year Of The President" play like straightforward rock-trio indie rock tracks with some slight digital accoutrements (filtered vocals, light electronics) and the title track of "City Vs Country" arrives as what is easily the most infectious track on the entire release with chimes and electronics gurgling under a Peter Hook-esque bassline and ascending guitar melody and vocals that play off one another in delightful ways. In the end, some fans may find the groups move towards center a bit frustrating, it has obviously paid off by solidifying their songs (at the expense of some surprise). Five tracks run by in a lean 21 minutes and there's nary a frivolous moment on the release. With a full-length coming later this year, The Mobius Band seems like they're finally on the track to make a much larger name for themselves.

Rating: 7