By March of Dimes
'All Intents And Purposes,' the debut full-length from March of Dimes, opens with the decidedly low-key, acoustic rattle of 'If We Only Had One Day.' The under produced edge gives 'If We Only Had...' an intimate, country feel that perfectly complements lyrics that don't always take the obvious route. This is a song that seems to be expressing something meaningful to the song writer, rather than just flowing where the next rhyme or neat phrase takes it. Occasionally, this results in an awkward lyric, but Jonathan Moss, although not the strongest vocalist in the world, has a charismatic voice that ensures he can get away with the occasional clunky line.
'If We Only Had One...' does lose its way towards the end, with an overlong instrumental end-section that really isn't necessary - after all, it's this song's quiet, country-tinged swing that'll win you over, not any musical hooks.
Possibly a little low-key for some, but 'If We Only Had One...' is a simple and effective acoustic ballad, with some strong lyrics.
'Foxes And Convicts' packs more of a punch, with lush backing vocals and the occasional, perfectly-placed synth that combine to create a song of sublime, easy-on-the-ear, pop-infused hooks, with a curiously downbeat edge.
'Foxes And Convicts' is that rarest of things: a pleasant, melodic tune, with just enough bite to ensure you won't get to the end of the song, and have absolutely no recollection of what you've just heard.
'Talking To Myself' is a ballad of twangy acoustic guitar that's completely devoid of studio gloss. It seems to revel in its under production, as frontman and acoustic guitarist Jonathan bashes out the occasional, harshly twangy note that acts like an explanation point in 'Talking To Myself's steady rattle. It works surprisingly well, as do the low-key beginning and end-sections of glimmering synths and breathy vocals.
That acoustic rattle may be in danger of becoming slightly boring halfway through, but, overall, 'Talking To Myself' is a surprise album highlight. Not sure about the harmonica, though!
With 'Matt's Party,' March of Dimes try something a little different, to varying degrees of success. Firstly, the tacked-on synths and the flashes of distortion are major mistakes. Synths and acoustic guitar is a difficult combination, and March of Dimes can't quite make it work.
But, 'Matt's Party' doesn't restrict itself to a synths and acoustic guitar combo; there's also a chorus of layered vocals that are slightly out of time with one another, which was probably meant to sound edgy, but actually just sounds like March of Dimes couldn't sing in time with one another. On the plus side, March of Dimes take a second, successful stab at a more indie-influenced sound, with some stop-start guitars and jangly drumbeats. 'Matt's Party' is a mixed bag, but at least this band aren't afraid to try something new.
'Lindbergh's Baby' is an unsettling song, not least because of March of Dimes' decision to pair the uncomfortable subject matter of missing children with a hauntingly beautiful chime that's repeated incessantly throughout the course of the song. The mournful, child-like simplicity of this sound is guaranteed to give you the shivers. 'Lindbergh's Baby' is a track that'll linger in your memory long after you've moved onto the next song.
'4am Division' is the song where March of Dimes finally pull off using an acoustic guitar and a synthesiser simultaneously, with a neat patter of toe-tapping synths leading us into the song, and re-occurring at the tail-end of every chorus. Even the more abrasive synths that pipe away beneath that rattling acoustic guitar successfully bring a vaguely Carnival tinge to '4am Division.'
'The Golden Age' sees the return of the electric piano that made 'Lindbergh's Baby' such a haunting track. This is a similarly atmosphere-drenched, beautifully unsettling piece of alternative country, underpinned by the electric piano's twinkling, and packed full of sublime backing vocals.
Album-closer 'The Cracks In The Floor' opens on a beautifully sombre note, with deep, resonate piano and rumbling drumbeats hinting at a darker side to March of Dimes, and complementing the grim imagery of the lyrics. After such a sober start, it's a little jarring when this song suddenly picks up the pace. However, once you've grown accustomed to this change of pace, 'The Cracks In The Floor' is a lively piece of modernised country.
'All Intents And Purposes' has a heavy country influence, but March of Dimes always take pains to sound fresh and modern, with the inclusion of a few unexpected instruments, namely the harmonica, electric piano, synthesiser and organ. Although these instruments don't always sit comfortably with the album's country leanings, the majority of people will find 'All Intents And Purposes' a far more interesting and varied listen, than eleven tracks of someone strumming away at an acoustic guitar. 'All Intents And Purposes' is worth checking out if you like your music mellow, melodic and occasionally poignant - even if you're a little sceptical about their country influences.
Alt-americana / Post rock.