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"From the Valley to the Stars"

06 May 2008, 10:00 Written by
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elperrodelmar_valleycover.jpgWhereas Arcade Fire utilized the pipe organ’s inherent cathartic power on Neon Bible’s 'Intervention' and 'My Body Is A Cage', Sweden’s Sarah Assbring plays the type of subtle organ you’d expect an elderly lady to twiddle on during a lazy afternoon liturgy. You can almost feel the warm yellow shafts of light gleaming off her Wurlitzer on drowsy melancholic choir mantras like 'Happiness Won Me Over' and album opener 'Jubilee'. For her second album as El Perro del Mar Assbring abandons the saccharine sweet Phil Spector production style she adopted for her buoyant breakthrough self-titled album in 2006. The downcast ice queen flits around quite a bit but ultimately sacrifices the exacting pop sensibility she’s cultivated thus far for a cohesive mood.The cohesive mood just so happens to tie closely to that of an apologetic parishioner finding solace in music. The modern music listener, regardless of religious affiliation often pines for the inherent communalism of nature without even realizing it. Assbring just draws an artistic link between the two and underscores her position with the quintessential pop song theme ”“ lost love. This all sounds grand on paper but her aspirations become missed opportunities due to sleepy lyricism.'Inner Island' is at best, monotonous whilst 'The Sum Is An Old Friend' and instrumental 'Inside the Golden Egg' come off as cheerless and truncated missives. 'From the Valley to the Stars' tinkling apprehension also misfires. It aims to soar into the heavens but like the album it appears on its weighted down by the anchor of monotony. The woodwinds and strange electronics that may have been a fine surface for a song only weigh down 'You Belong to the Sky Now'.The fluffy cloud epistles of yore are sadly rare on From the Valley. 'Into the Sunshine' is a sitar-tinged sashay through the flowers whilst 'You Can’t Steal A Gift' and 'Somebody’s Baby' resurrects some of the doo-wop elegance heard on El Perro del Mar. The latter song’s walking piano notes drape the biting jealousy you would loathe to be tangled in as holy garments to dance in. 'Glory To The World' continues the naïve and world weary lover-cum-believer. Organs softly drone and woodwinds chirp as Assbring sings about the clouds with "funny shapes". The strange soul backup vocal outré contributes something unforeseen on a dialed-in album.That seems to be the bizarre emotional norm on an album that paints itself into an awkward and self-afflicted corner. Like the strange religious practice held most famously by Martin Luther, From the Valley seems to hold tight to the old adage that cleansing the soul comes only through pain - in this case the artistic variety. Unlike other modern bloodletting albums, From the Valley to the Stars spends too much time in the ditches. 65%[Download From The Valley To The Stars]Links El Perro del Mar [official site] [myspace] [20 questions]
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