Mr. Bones And The Dreamers – The Absence Of Light EP

Mr Bones And The Dreamers - The Absence Of Light EP

Mr. Bones And The Dreamers - The Absence Of Light EP

Kiernan Goddard and his seven-piece outfit Mr Bones And The Dreamers make music well suited to the climate of their home in Birmingham, England: temperate, tolerable, and lacking in extremes. The band specializes in a brand of easily digested chamber pop that compresses the emotional heat of the Arcade Fire and the icy ambience of Elbow. Their new four-song EP is a testimony to this point; the piano and violin driven tunes tend to be more weary and melancholic than epic and impassioned.

The band members, who so desperately want to indulge in an U2-style sense of grandiosity, have their ambitions thwarted again and again by the downtrodden warble of Goddard’s voice and the trite use of lush string harmonies. Lead track “Are These Actual Miles?” finds both of these Mr Bones staples being employed on top of an unobtrusive bed of jangle pop rock. A lively drumbeat and elated backup vocals propel the song forward while elegiac strings nostalgically soar and Goddard sings, “We don’t know who to burn and who to sigh.” The song is as indecisive as this cryptic lyric, stuck in stasis while grappling with the simultaneous temptations of defiantly marching on or letting indifference take hold. Including the old cliché, “You’re the apple of my eye” as a choice lyric is equally puzzling.

In “The Towers,” an unabashedly jaunty groove clashes with the pleading quiver of the lead vocals, which somehow sound like a hybrid of Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble and Elbow’s Guy Garvey. Predictably dense string orchestrations enter at the pre-chorus just before Goddard moans, “I see what you see…the towers, the towers.”

“Time To Rest” is the band’s finest moment, melding a quasi-disco beat with far more somber guitar and piano. Had there been a bit of pep in their step, this could’ve been mistaken for a tribute to the Arcade Fire’s 2004 song, “Rebellion (Lies).” A rubbery bass part is juxtaposed by occasionally falsetto vocals that make this song far more ethereal than its two predecessors. Only on the closer, “Lend Me A Looking Glass” does the band amp up the atmospherics, as a reverb treated trumpet enjoys some open space to roam before a restrained drumbeat can no longer contain itself and gives in to catharsis.

Sadly though, all the songs seem to follow the same structural procedure: a brooding intro that is followed by a reticent verse and escalating pre-chorus, only to be topped off with a shout-from-the-rooftops chorus of unbridled joy. Mr Bones And The Dreamers are good at what they do, but there are just too many other bands out there who do it better.

Mr. Bones and the Dreamers