Thurs Oct 21
1 SW 3rd
In the emerging tradition of budding bands featuring aesthetically arousing twins, On!Air!Library! has more to offer than hip eye-candy to plaster the pages of Venus magazine. Considering their live shows and self-titled debut were met earlier this year with critical oohs and ahhs, it's a surprise that the group has been met with... well, lukewarm audience response. Their following is as ambiguous as the mish-mash of styles on their album--though the band seems to identify themselves with arty innovators like Animal Collective and Joan of Arc, its audience (apparently drawn to the music's more melancholy undertones) seems mostly comprised of the black lipstick contingent.
Phillip Wann and sisters Claudia and Alley Deheza are quick to distinguish themselves outside any current musical trend--and a first listen to On!Air!Library! makes the notion difficult to contest. It's as if half the members are in blissful ignorance that it's no longer 1998, while the rest are aggressively folding sonic mixtures that have never, ever been tried (or at least reached this level of recognition). Alone, either half might collapse immediately, but the planking of the two make for one of the most sturdily original experimental pop albums of 2004.
Unified narrowly by the unremarkable (though unobtrusive) singing of Alley and Claudia--whose shrouded voices are as similar as their DNA--the record is otherwise incredibly disparate. "Feb.," the most conforming sweet dream-pop track, is a highlight with its heart-poking melodies and precisely mirrored electronic and organic elements. More befitting to their general sound, "Fell to Earth" is a challenging creep of flutes and synth, with sparse rattlesnake slithers and a familiar (and recurring) creaky opening door sample that would make any AOL user squirm. It can be a trying listen--with ranting message machine recordings sticking out like pimples between and behind several tracks--but it's ultimately a gratifying work. That said, On!Air!Library! is best experienced in a live setting--the band's heavily sampled treatments are some of the most nuanced I've ever experienced.