Frog Eyes

All the idiosyncratic jangling, clattering carnival-esque swooning, and arch melodrama suggests Tom Waits Malkoviched into David Bowie's body. Frontman Carey Mercer's vocals manifest the shrill, anxious delivery of glam Bowie much like Dan Bejar, whom Frog Eyes has backed and with whom Mercer and Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug created the one-off (?) Swan Lake in '06. This garnered Frog Eyes indie buzz, but the noisy, manic intensity of the arrangements accompanying Mercer's torrential lyricism and operatic tenor taxes listeners' faculties, limiting the songs' appeal based on endurance and patience. However, the ornate craft and detail certainly fascinates and eventually rewards the time with entry into a Kafka-esque wonderland of dread and torment. Their last two albums, 2006's The Future is Inter-Disciplinary or Not At All, and 2007's Tears of the Valedictorian, are even more accessible, dialing back Mercer's vocals in the mix, struggling to stay afloat amidst the stormy, keyboard-driven sound. On the last album, in particular, more melody seeps in between the calamitous clouds, with the sunshine leavening the churning pitch and offering greater dynamics. Indeed, Tears is one of last year's most exciting releases, finally justifying the genuflections.


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