Sorry About Dresden – The Convenience of Indecision

Sorry About Dresden
The Convenience of Indecision

Sorry About Dresden’s sound could definitely be classified as emo, complete with the now-famous ‘quiet-loud-quiet’ dynamic. However, the rhythm guitars on this release are more ‘jangle’ than ‘crunch,’ giving the band a different tone than most of what gets categorized as emo by the masses nowadays. It’s almost as if Whiskytown’s Ryan Adams and Mould got together and decided to record songs written by Cursive.

These sounds are led by vocalist Matt Oberst (brother of Bright Eyes/Desaparecidos frontman Conor Oberst). Surprisingly enough for the almost exclusively Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records, Sorry About Dresden is based out of North Carolina (though in all fairness, Oberst and bassist Matt Tomich are relocated Omaha dwellers). The band has one previous album, as well as an EP and a few scattered 7″ releases, but it’s here on The Convenience of Indecision that Sorry About Dresden has really begun to expand musically.

The Convenience of Indecision completely grabbed my attention in the first 3:45 with “A Losing Season,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on any Bob Mould solo albums. As a matter of fact, it took me almost two days to listen past that first track. I listened over and over, letting the lyrics echo in my head (“Burn the letters that you never wrote / Anywhere you hang your hat is not your home”) while acoustic guitars build up to melodically jangly rhythms then collapsed back down again. The vocals (with a very Mould meets Enigk grainy-whine quality to them) push out labored growls, creating an intense atmosphere to sustain the rest of the disc.

The artist similarity of the opening track isn’t a one-shot deal, as “A Brilliant Ally” carries the same low-key, brooding intensity as more recent Bob Mould releases (especially during the guitar-and-vocal bridge of “I know where my sympathies lie / Buried half-alive in shallow graves”). The track also features some delicate intertwined dual guitar parts, lending to the more ’emo’ side of the spectrum. “It’s Morning Again in America” shows off an almost alt-country vibe, carrying on over acoustic guitars like an intimate campfire jamboree, albeit a very downtrodden one. The sparse piano notes that drop into the mix sound as pretty as roses while they’re hitting like hammers.

The album’s other key standout track, “Deadship, Darkship,” features a sing-along “In your eyes” refrain that’s first punctuated by screaming then brought down to a lullaby’s lull. The track starts off along the lines of a Nirvana song before thrusting itself skyward. The floodgates open with the painful screams of, “Shut up / I’m tired of your talking / So much that I just wanna hear you cry,” accompanied by dreamy strains of guitar that rain down subtle images of the Afghan Whigs. “It’s Not Early Anymore” is another more than worthwhile listen, slowly building up from pretty guitar-and-voice beginnings to a formidable chorus and finally, into a raging guitar frenzy worthy of Dinosaur Jr.’s SST works. “Faulty Math, Tired Horses” sounds like it came straight from an alt-country disc, complete with cool slide-guitar solo and (*gasp!*) xylophone part (along with what sounds like a mandolin, although that may just be a guitar part played on the tightly pulled high strings of a guitar). The female backing vocals are quite striking, and although it sounds a bit out of place on this disc, the track plays out wonderfully.

Reviewing this disc was weird, because for as much as I had heard and read about Sorry About Dresden, I had never actually heard them before getting this disc through DOA. I really wanted to be prepared for this review, so I went back and read as many reviews and blurbs about the band’s works as I could, hoping to get a sense of what I was going to be hearing. I dunno … I think my observations about the band are a little stranger than the others I’ve taken in, but that still doesn’t change the fact that The Convenience of Indecision is a damned good listen.