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Past Lives: Tapestry of Webs in a Roundup of Reviews

What this critic says: "Past Lives -- lead by enigmatic lead singer Jordan Billie -- have crafted an album that constantly shifts tempos, often playing things on the more slower, serious side. Gone are Billie's days of relentless screaming over punk-laden guitars, replaced with a more subtle approach to his vocals that still shows listeners his trademark pitch. Tracks like "Falling Spikes" and "Don't Let The Ashes Fill Your Eyes" showcase the sophistication and polish of the band while the undeniable charm of Billie -- often sounding like a high-pitched Tim Harrington -- solidifies the album as a whole."

Pitchfork: "For those who are familiar with Blilie, part of what makes this record interesting is hearing his voice in a new context and how he adapts to it. The same extends to the rest of the band: Sometimes the group's subtlety builds into a soaring and assured melody, as it does in "Paralyzer" or the near-strut of "Vanishing Twin". There's often a tangible tension, as with "Past Lives", which grows progressively more ominous without ever offering release, or melodic, dub-inflected "Deep in the Valley" and "Aerosol Bouquet". Occasionally the band falls into a stilted and somewhat awkward lurch, like on the riff of "Don't Let the Ashes Fill Your Eyes", though even that has a striking and strangely lush chorus with layered vocal harmonies."

The Seattle Times: "As of late February, the great Seattle rock album of 2010 is Past Lives' Tapestry of Webs. It's the sound of a band finding out it's actually two or three different ones, then not breaking up. Album closer "There is a Light So Bright it Blinds" is a sunrise ballad with guitar chords that ring out in peals. It sounds like being saved by angels. By contrast, "K Hole" is a body-jarring drone groove that sounds like burning in hell."

Absolutepunk: "The album is a slow pop burn, building gradually, but never boiling over. It rides a thin line of indie sensationalism and late '80s underground mod buried somewhere beneath at least one Talking Heads record, if not blazed across their entire catalog. The thing about Tapestry of Webs is its return appeal. After a few listens - and believe me, it takes a few - choral lines stick and what is unconventional to the masses becomes conventional to those who understand the album's structure."

No Ripchord: "All the songs build nicely and neatly, using one guitar to hold down the low end and the other to create drones, atmosphere and a loud lead part when the time comes. Though they eschew verse-chorus-verse song structures for a gradual build on every song, formats still tend to repeat themselves time after time. The slow sections come off as boring and when every song starts that way it's tough to keep things moving. The album's arrangement is either awkward or ineffectual, which doesn't help the lack of momentum. The transition between the first two songs is jarring in the worst way possible and "At Rest" is a completely unnecessary instrumental thrown into the latter half of the album."

Tapestry of Webs is out now on Suicide Squeeze Records. Past Lives are set to play Trunk Space March 17.
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Michael Lopez