Skidmore Fountain – Break

Sometimes you hear an album that seems to have all of the ingredients for something you’d like, but it just doesn’t grab you. That’s where I find myself with Skidmore Fountain’s latest album. Although it throws together some Interpol, some Radio 4, and some Editors, it hasn’t found the whatever-it-is to make the same impression as those others.

Skidmore Fountain arrived in New York after spending time in Arizona and Oregon. The band’s been kicking for seven years and Break is its second album. The record has some good ideas on it, for sure, and the playing is fine. Interestingly, the instrumentation features guitar, electric cello, and drums – a lineup you don’t see or hear of every day.

A tune like “Lit On Fire” shows a little bit of a Radiohead touch, whereas “Dance Political” has Radio 4 stamped on it. “Break” also sounds like a dance number, but it augments the groove with some more aggressive indie rock. “Lightning” is more of a ballad, and it has some interesting lead guitar work.

Across the board, though, the vocals come across as a little too affected and histrionic. That’s not to say they’re awful, because they’re not. They’re on pitch and the melodies can be catchy. “Blur” shows some really nice style on the chorus, for instance. Another bone I’d pick would be with the drums – they’re OK but they could do more for the sound. They sound pretty thin (more reverb, maybe?) and they’re not very high in the mix. The beats move the songs along, but do so predictably where they might be more inventive.

The band knows how to play, but Break feels a little unfocused as a whole. From torch song (“Lost and Lonely”), to dance, to NYC indie-rock, to emo, the songs touch on a lot of styles without any commitment, which ultimately makes the record feel a little incoherent. I hope Skidmore Fountain follows up with something that builds more on its strengths.