“Trade in Your Pieces”, the freshman debut album by Articles of Separation, a UTSA student band, offers a lighthearted but musically sound experience, though it grows a bit repetitive and fails to break out of the monstrous pool of Indie Rock.
“Working Title” does break out from “Intro” into an energetic, possibly erratic, guitar progression reminiscent of the Mars Volta. Tim Warlow’s tenor vocals deliver stream of consciousness lyrics as the music contorts between progressions. The music is solid though mixing seems hastily done because the sound levels of the instruments and vocals don’t always seem to agree.
“1204” starts off a bit softer than “Working Title,” but by the second line transforms into a clattering of instruments that, while clearly composed of different notes, sounds suspiciously similar to the previous track. Warlow’s lyrics become hard to follow in the midst of all the action, and the specific parts that come through clearly don’t help explain what is going on in the songs.
“A Thousand Tiny Spots” follows a pattern similar to “1204,” starting off calmly and quietly but, by the chorus, exploding into yet another bout of rolling noise. Again, the piece is not poorly composed, but when placed against the others, it begins to wear.
The smattering of instrumentals throughout the album offers the most variety and leaves the listener wondering what the band could do if they expanded on the themes presented therein.
“Lonely Trumpeter” is, ironically, a duet of trumpet and piano, with some curious whispering in the background, drawing the listener into the mysterious feel of the work.
The first few notes of “Aphrodite’s Lost Lullaby” scream ‘Single!’ perhaps because it’s the only song on the album that starts with a melody led by the violin but backs off for the vocals. Besides the beginning, it has the most open and arguably most relatable topic: envy. It gives an overwhelming, natural energy to the song. Ben Warlow’s drum work is simple but strong throughout the song, laying down a solid backbone for the tight musicianship of the other group members.
The title track, “Trade in Your Pieces,” opens with reverberating keys and group-sung chanting, which set it apart immediately from the other songs.
When the drums come in and the lyrics mention water guns and losing clothes, it begins to sound less like Articles of Separation and more like MGMT, for better and for worse.
As a debut album, “Trade in Your Pieces” is nothing to be ashamed of. It offers several peeks at directions this band might be heading and does a lot to show off their raw musical talent.
To see more of the band and get concert dates, check them out on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/articlesofseparation.