Call it folk-rock. Call it indie-pop. Call it two former members of Number One Gun coming out of Northern Cali with a decidedly different flavor than anything else on Tooth & Nail's roster. Bravo to the label for branching out and attempting to tap into music beyond their stigma.
Surrogate is, even in its established sound, quite varied. The album opener "Shift the Blame" sets the listener's palette to the softer side of melody, with its simple acoustic progression and echoed vocals. The song never really fills up, even when sustained piano, background cymbal taps, and a harmonizing voice enter in almost at the end. This type of minimalism isn't completely indicative of the rest of the album, though. "Photographic Memory" skirts the edge of a soft alt-rock tone, while "Papertrail" ditches the acoustic foundation altogether, giving way to what starts as a typical indie-rock song while the fuller moments drain into contrasting verses which make the tune as a whole feel delightfully conflicted. "Problem Solving" sounds very Eisley-influenced, "15" belongs on a Shins album, and "Fence" ranks up there with the best sway-rhythm piano-centric contemplation pieces. Musically the slow tempo, indie-folk foundation is never too far departed from, although it is augmented to a pleasant degree most of the time.
Fans of the hyphenated genres mentioned will find something to like about Love is For the Rich. Be prepared for a contemplative listen, with a deceptively empty sound- each subsequent play revealing a little more of the subtlety. Lyrically, most of the songs are stories or commentaries on relationship, embarrassment, indecision, and patience… mostly without metaphor or any spiritual profundity to elevate it above other bands of a similar breed. The end result of the music and lyric in aggregate is that you'll end up asking yourself if you've heard this album before. There's room to grow for Surrogate and they've got the beginnings of something great here.- Review date: 8/23/07, written by David Goodman
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