The bright stuff

By IAN SANDS  |  April 17, 2007

His presence is felt most on the buoyant “July,” a track Price feels was the album’s biggest challenge. “There’s sort of like four different guitar events on that track that would be really hard to pull off live, which is why that song isn’t in the set yet.”

Whatever the changes in their studio approach, The Light Divides doesn’t sound like a marked departure from the band’s debut. Opener “Lay Your Heartbreak” begins with Price’s soft, sulking vocals over foreboding guitars that reach a climax in the chorus, with Reed laying down a backing vocal under Price’s lead and cymbals crashing. There’s the odd occasion where Price’s rhymes are uncharacteristically awkward or forced. (In “July” he sings, “I could receive you or I could deceive you.”) But the beauty is in the melody that goes along with the lyric: it’s one of the most infectious hooks they’ve recorded to date.

Back at the Middle East, things aren’t going well. Before the band, who are touring with Brian Akey on bass, even get started, Crommett’s amp blows and he has to find a replacement. When the set does get under way, the slower, more intricate numbers — “Hide Me,” “Broken Arm,” tracks that come off so well on the new album — aren’t quite connecting. Perhaps this has something to do with the feedback that keeps creeping in. And at times the clamor of loud drums and guitar drowns out Reed. But “Want the Want,” from Winterpills, takes off and builds momentum in a way they weren’t quite capable of when they recorded it. It’s characteristic of their approach, with feather-light vocals over a sustained repetitive guitar line until the voices of Reed and Crommett take the chorus up another level. Then Hower’s drums add more drive, and the urgency increases with each new layer. Given time, and more touring, Winterpills should be able to bring the rest of their set up to that level. They’ll be back in town June 20 at the Museum of Fine Arts.

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