I chose to stream the first two songs on the album not only to highlight the incredible contrast between the two tracks, but because it's worth noting that Save the Clocktower isn't just good at combining styles, but making vastly different styles feel equally genuine and comfortable. The first song "Drip" has an instantly likeable hook, but it only ever skirts the line between the good kind of poppy and too poppy. Each verse and chorus is edged with softly undulating electronica, sandwiched between interludes combining elements of trance, house, and world music. The second song "You Got Me" starts out grungy and downtempo yet still vaguely familiar melancholic. The sonorous vocal delivery of the verses takes a sudden upturn and skews psychedelic during the pleasantly anthemic refrain of "You got me going", and the song seems able to march on indefinitely. There's such a cacophony of sounds that the lyrics are almost indiscernible at times, but it's in no way overdone or off-putting. Instead, the crafty trio combats this issue by keeping their lyrics simple and instead, sharply contrasting the delivery and effects of the verses and choruses. In opposition to the airy vocals and house, then breakbeat of "Far Apart" reminds me of a more playful track from Radiohead's Amnesiac, while the country-flavored "They" sounds more like a collaboration between The Get Up Kids and Wilco. The song begins and ends with ripples of subtle synths that become louder with the growing presence of a wisful chorus, the combination of syncopated piano chords and occasional harpsichord sounds dreamy without skewing too cutesy. I could continue to dissect each song ad infinitum, which is perhaps my favorite part of this album: you can't process the whole thing in one casual listen, or a few listens, or even several. I find the title extremely fitting, as listening to this album is a bit like riding a carousel: you know that each time you go around you're going to experience roughly similar stimuli, but no spins will ever look or feel quite the same.
Explore the rest of Save the Clocktower's sophomore effort Carousel on their Bandcamp page and iTunes (though it's twice the price on the latter). Their next performance will be Saturday, May 14th at The Abbey in Chicago. They'll be sharing the stage with Kid Koala, Cave, and Loyal Divide, another Chicago band you might recall from my review and interview with them at South by Southwest. The show is 21 and up, and advance tickets are available here until May 6th for $15 and will be $20 at the door. For more information on their upcoming tour dates and albums, follow Save the Clocktower on Facebook or Twitter.