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A Mixed Bag Of Goodness

Six By Seven
The Things We Make
(Beggars Banquet/Interscope)

This is one of those groups that I just didn't really hear anything about until almost a year after their album had been released. The first thing I read about them was when they made NME's top 50 album list at the end of last year, then I didn't read anything on them until recently again. Finally, I decided to take my chances with the disc.

Upon first listen, I have to admit that The Things We Make didn't really do a whole lot for me. The singer seemed a bit whiny for my liking and I just couldn't get into the music very much. The second time I put it in the player, though, something clicked and I wondered just what I had been listening to the first time around. The five-piece British group definitely isn't the run-of-the-mill outfit. If I was trying put some sort of easy explanation on the sound, I would say that they have elements of Spiritualized, Primal Scream, Radiohead, and even a couple post rock groups like Tortoise in them. They do have vocals on the tracks, but several of them on the album turn into extended jam sessions with flailing noises and blaring instruments.

The opening track sets a strange tone, as it drones along for over 4 of its 5 minutes without a beat of any sort. Finally, on the last chorus, a loping drum and bass line comes in, but only really as a teaser before the song ends and then swells up into the noisy "European Me." After the two most pop songs on the disc, the almost 9-minute album epic "Spy Song" takes off. The first half of the song races along, flavored with bits of saxophone, but the second half of the track drops off into another awesome droning session that almost perfectly offsets the frantic beginning.

The group shows a great ability to go from fairly minimal to rather chaotic in a short amount of time, and it usually works. With 5 members in the band, they're able to pull off some interesting instrumentation. The vocals take a bit of time to get used to, but after you've heard them once, it seems like the right combination. If you like one or more of the bands above, it might be your thing. A great debut from a band to definitely keep an eye on.

Rating: 7