The Race – Rose EP

The Race
Rose EP

The worst thing I could say about this Chicago group based on Rose’s four songs was that I wasn’t particularly inspired to wade any deeper into the band’s catalogue. The best would be that by about the eighth time I listened to this EP, I began to question whether I was too easily underwhelmed and was in fact dismissing its subtle charms too quickly. But at that point the window of opportunity began to close, and as the final song wound down, the Race was left on the other side.

Rose consists of two songs from an upcoming (here by now, I think) album and two others produced by Charles Cooper of Telefon Tel Aviv. It’s a somber, slow-tempo guitar n’ technology sound akin to the Notwist and just as frequently too somnolent for its own good. The sessions with Cooper left the band with songs that “were turned inside out and stripped down until essential melodies and structures remained,” as the band explains, but maybe all the turning and stripping was too much for the songs. The title song in particular is built around the slightest of ideas, a scrap of melody, a dark little guitar riff. If the intention was to leave room for the production to make magic out of these elements, it falls short. “Sinking Feeling” works better thanks to a nice cluster of electric piano chords and some double-tracked vocals. It’s an odd complaint to make about a less-than-thrilling song, but I thought its brief length actually worked against it. Repetitive, hypnotic tunes sometimes need to stretch out to get the actual hypnotizing done.

“Little Babe” has the amusing refrain “up and at ‘em” sung in the lazy, dragged-out manner of all the EP’s vocals. Amusing because the Race doesn’t sound like it is ready to get up and at anything, what with the combined BPM of this EP at around four and singer Craig Klein’s behind-the-beat phrasing imparting a sense of torpor, not action. Still the song, like the disc in general, almost works; the restraint almost resolves itself into an identity. Devoid of high or lowlights, the appeal of this EP may depend too much on the mood of the listener for a simple yes/no review. It’s certainly not bad, just not enough of anything really.