The countdown to End of the Road begins here...
Absentee's Schmotime was one of my favourite albums of 2006. It was one of these records which was remarkable in its unremarkableness. Nothing striking or original, but there was just something in Dan Michaelson's gravelly vocals and the rough and lovely warm guitar sounds that totally charmed me. It's still an album that I return to regularly, and its place at the top of the artists list on my iPod only helps this.
It's been a couple of years and there have been some changes in the Absentee camp (drummer departed) and various members have pursued their own projects (check out Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards, Wet Paint and The Bronsteins for decent music that isn't a hundred miles away from the parent band). Now they're onto their second LP and if it initially seems like a bit more muted or low-key than before, that's probably because there's less of Schmotime's brassy exuberance. Only the ace single Bitchstealer features the parping horns that seemed so ubiquitous on the previous record. This time the tinkling of keyboard player Melinda Bronstein seems much more to the fore.
Brass aside, it's a direct continuation of what Absentee do best - Michaelson's ravaged drawl and these hugely pleasing riffs from Babak Ganjei, all of which calls to mind past favourites - a much less polished Teenage Fanclub, a poppier Pavement perhaps. Victory Shorts has an energy and life of its own, and there's plenty exubarence too - Bitchstealer and Pips at least are proof of this - although it's maybe the more measured moments that linger the best. It's taken me a bit more time to appreciate this album - where Schmotime was pretty much an instant favourite, Victory Shorts has taken me longer. But it's been time well spent, and there are new pleasures to be found each time round. I suggest you try it out.
mp3: Absentee - Love Has Had Its Way
mp3: Absentee - Pips
Pre-order Victory Shorts from Memphis Industries. No doubt it'll be on emusic too.