Roman Evening – Together Now

Roman Evening
Together Now

In ancient Rome, if your wife gave birth to a daughter and you had hoped to have a son, or if you didn’t want to have to pay for her eventual dowry, then you could legally abandon your brand-new child on the side of the road. Romans also ate dormice, cleaned their clothes with urine, and believed they could tell the future based on how many birds liked to hang out with each other. They ripped their gods off from other people they had killed, created a pantheon of the greatest and most awesome deities ever, and still didn’t even really believe in any of that shit, anyway. For all of their commendable qualities, Romans could still be damn stupid. And yet they conquered pretty much the whole damn known world and would’ve created the airplane by 1400 had encroaching Germans and/or lead in the aqueducts not finished them off. Imagine how much ass the Romans would’ve kicked if they had been more consistent in their intelligence or knew when to restrain their own ambition. They would have really been something, fella.
Thing is, the rock group Roman Evening’s kinda the same way, really. They’ve got some great stuff going on here, and yet overall they dilute their own significance by trying to pull off too much. At about 54 minutes, this record might not seem too long when you first pop it into your player, but listening to the whole thing start to stop feels about as long as watching the entire run of “I, Claudius.” And that’s a shame, ‘cuz there is a whole lot of good on this disc.
Opening track “Let’s Take It Back” might be the best of them all, actually, with its winning chorus of “Let’s take it back, / at least a century or two, / let’s bring it back, / before me and you.” With only bass, drums, organs, and vocals, Roman Evening string up a nice warm hammock of a song, something you can crawl into and swing along in for a good seven minutes or so, and all without things getting the least bit tedious. Song number two, “Retreat,” driven by piano, with a nifty melody and a guitar solo just slightly too muted to be deemed blazing, also keeps up its end of the bargain.
In fact, these songs’ building blocks are all solid. Adam Klein’s whiny croon at times resembles Neil Young, and the music, constructed mostly by Michael Mullen, recalls a more vibrant Plush or some of Yo la Tengo’s more recent, subdued work. The problem comes from extending everything out to at least the four and a half minute mark. In fact, after the third song, “So Completely,” not a single song clocks in at less than 4:30. This gets tiresome; all the songs are solid and enjoyable to a point, but when the same basic parts are recycled for the nth time it can get a bit tedious. “Comfort Bringers,” ostensibly split into three parts, stretches itself out to about 10 minutes, and even though there is internal variation, it just doesn’t warrant its length. Three separate tracks would have been a better way of going about the “Comfort Bringers.” I don’t know if maybe Messrs. Klein and Mullen were too impressed by their own handiwork, but they definitely draw things out a bit too much.
So some judicious editing could have made this album something to really get excited about. As it is, it’s a fine record with some good songs and some great-sounding songs as well. Roman Evening lives up to both the ability and decadence reflected in their name.