Lowcloudcover – I Took a Second too Long EP

I Took a Second too Long EP

The San Diego band Lowcloudcover, which has been operating for a few years now, has yet to release a proper album. These guys have been party to compilations, and in 2002 they put out an EP of four songs. Their latest offering, I Took a Second too Long, collects five new songs (plus an “intro” piece) into another EP.

With a running time of 30 minutes, you can do the math: there are some long songs on here. “The Last Lemming,” at 9:25 minutes, singlehandedly accounts for about a third of the entire EP’s duration, which is a shame. The shorter tracks – especially “Menace” – deliver a punch to the gut the way the longer tracks cannot. “Menace,” the second track, stands out as a simply fantastic expression of what the band can do when the artists focus their energies.

The song begins with a simple bass line and backbeat, pausing only slightly just before resuming as the guitars drop in, which is when the song really starts. Instantly, then, you hear the tension in the sound: the tonal combination of the guitar, bass, and subtle keyboards sounds somehow wrong but perfect. The opening lyrics reflect the tension: “When I get up to dance, my moves come as no surprise / And when I get up to dance, I take it right between the eyes.” The self-doubt, the insecurity, the feelings of awkwardness are captured right there, as a fine complement to the angst of the music. In this way, “Menace” delivers you into the same sonic and emotional territory trod by the Comsat Angels and the Lucy Show. I wish that the EP featured more songs along the lines of “Menace,” because it’s really a remarkable track. Kudos!

Unfortunately, “Where Did You Go?” and “The Last Lemming” follow “Menace,” and these songs seem to stretch their statements too thin. The complaint that I have with this is the same that I had with God Machine and sometimes the Standard, and maybe it’s just a matter of taste: if all of your most interesting and hardest-hitting tracks are the most concise tracks in your repertoire, you run the risk of testing patience with the longer excursions. Sure, not every song needs to deliver “right between the eyes,” and sometimes you need more time to develop a mood (in fact, “The Last Lemming” does this best as the lines “I could sleep all day” float over the pulsing bass and melancholy, creeping keyboards). I just think that sometimes the songs cover too much ground and would benefit from being split into their constituent parts as separate statements.

Maybe I’m just too impatient, but after those two long songs, the punchy concision of “Battle Scars” hits just right. While not as powerful as “Menace,” it comes pretty close at times. Like “Menace,” it’s both frigid and combustible at the same time.

From the band’s website, you can sample of couple of their earlier tracks, and both have drive and delivery of the best songs on I Took a Second too Long. I hope that Lowcloudcover puts out a full album one day, and I hope that the band skews the tracks to include the less digressive and discursive songs, because the band has a knack for capturing isolation and tension that works best in more measured arrangements. That’s where the band really succeeds, and does so like few others these days.