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Alluvial Fans’ Earth To Astronaut is a laudable but flawed release

"Earth To Astronaut"

Release date: 05 June 2020
Cover art for Alluvial Fans second album Earth To Astronaut
03 June 2020, 07:57 Written by Ben Lynch
While the forming of any band requires a degree of luck, few can claim to have had a more fortuitous founding than Alluvial Fans.

Having written the first Alluvial Fans record, Lag Air, on his own, vocalist/guitarist Drew Bartosik established the trio when all three appeared on the same set one fateful night in Detroit. At the time all working on different projects, and Ollie Elkus (drums) and Gilad Granot (bass) not even living in Detroit, they soon relocated to the Motor City and so Alluvial Fans was born. The result of which is their first release as a trio, Earth To Astronaut.

Reflective of their forming, the record is a bit of a hodgepodge of styles and successes. Primarily borrowing from earnest indie acts such as Pile and math-indebted groups like Arcane Roots, Earth To Astronaut is certainly not without ambition. With most tracks landing around the six-minute mark, this is a band that revel in fluctuating between fast and slow, loud and quiet, and anything remotely dizzying to keep themselves and their audience occupied. This leads to numerous gorgeous segments, such as the eccentrically tender opening to “Choices” and the plaintive chorus on “Say It’s So”. The fact the tracks were all recorded live adds to the sincere joy evident in their sound, the album as a whole successful in creating a genuine dialogue between the audience and the band.

Unfortunately, the persistent jumping between sounds and segments isn’t always done smoothly, and there is the sense that certain tracks rather shunt from one thought to the next, resulting in much of Earth To Astronaut feeling disjointed and under-written. This might be at times due to a lack of ideas, which seems to be the case on “Test The Water” and the instrumental “Falafel”. “Cult Of Paradise” similarly fails to tie its numerous pieces into something coherent, leading to more of a headache than any real emotive response.

So where does that leave us overall? While it’s underlying sentiments and ambition are certainly laudable, there hangs in the air a sense of disappointment throughout Earth To Astronaut. Their ranging instrumentation and active imaginations make for an exciting prospect, but the record fails to achieve the consistency and ideation hoped for. Perhaps by album number three these fundamentals will have formed into something greater than its parts. For now, we’ll just have to hold tight and see how Alluvial Fans play their next move.

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