â€œTake Shapeâ€ plays with themes of tempo, volume, style, and harmony, with the seeming goal to turn all of it upside down. The simple and Pavement-ish â€œSavedâ€ and the fits-and-starts of the Replacements-ish â€œYou Donâ€™t Know What Iâ€™ve Been On,â€ pull beauty out of almost sullen music, taking
brooding into the sunlight and exposing it. â€œLike Songâ€ has the folk-pop quality of a Rubber Soul-era
Beatles tune, with some Byrdsy rhythm guitar. I donâ€™t know if the sonic reference is intentional, but itâ€™s unmistakable.
These are the finest examples of the music on Clevelandâ€™s The Dreadful Yawnsâ€™ newest record. My problem with it is that almost every song suddenly stops or gets remarkably quiet, right in the middle, creating a sort of false ending to every song. This can be disarming when it is done well, as is the case with much of the record, but it can be frustrating, too, because the listener is never able to fully bond with the band.
â€œMood Assassin,â€ for example, bounces around so much between loud/inaudible and fast/slow that the listener is never allowed to settle inâ€”thereâ€™s no footing, no handhold, no purchase.
Donâ€™t take this criticism too strongly, though. Itâ€™s clear the band is going for the psychedelia thing
here, which seems to be the newest trend, and they succeed far more often than they fail. Iâ€™m sure if
LSD was my thing, this would be a phenomenon. And for those more sober listeners, if this record doesnâ€™t keep you guessing, youâ€™re not paying attention. The band is versatile and dynamic, the lyrics are thoughtful, and the vocals are lush and crisp. This is a smart and skilled album, and I recommend it.
For fans of: Black Mountain, Nick Drake, Velvet Underground, The Byrds, Sonic Youth, and Neil Youngâ€™s â€œArcâ€ album.