Scattered Trees | Sympathy

(Roll Call/EMI 2011)
By RYAN REED  |  April 6, 2011
2.0 2.0 Stars

the real Scattered trees main
On "Love and Leave," a painfully straightforward alt-guitar ballad on an album full of painfully straightforward alt-guitar ballads, Chicago's Scattered Trees can't decide which early-period Chris Martin moment they'd like to ape. Some may call them a poor man's Coldplay — which would make them, according to some, a poor man's poor man's Radiohead. Sometimes they just sound like poor men. Although Scattered Trees get emotionally expansive throughout this full-length debut, there's a distinct lack of production (and even playing) here, and that colors the proceedings with an anonymous hue. You keep waiting for those "Eureka!" moments in these inoffensive, safely crowd-pleasing tunes; you keep holding out for the band to rip down the electric-guitar wallpaper, for some energy to creep in, for something to challenge you or at least kick up a little dust. But those moments are rare. Yes, the restraint can work to the band's benefit, as on "Bury the Floors," where stark harmonies and droning synth build nervous tension that's more satisfying (and interesting) than an explosive catharsis. It could have turned into "Fix You (Again)," but they resisted the easy temptation. Still, that particular negative virtue is not enough. Even when Scattered Trees aim for the rainbow, things turn out a bit "Yellow."
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  Topics: CD Reviews , CD reviews, Pop, Sympathy
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