In a perfect world, where play is the perfect order, where beauty shines in small weirdnesses, and small weirdnesses are regarded as sacred things, and the sacred is felt not by its absence or polarity... This new album would shoot five or six singles into the Top 30 on the mainstream rock charts.
"From Dayton With Love" is a pristine summer album, the kind of album most bands make when they're young and hungry, and exercising their full chance to have an original voice. And yet Morella's Forest has been recording for a while already having released several full-length discs in the past few years. This album is an artistic breakthrough for them, though, as anyone who has been following their career can attest on just the first couple of listens.
How to describe it, though....Muzak-looped protest songs for hunger striking autistic debutantes stuck on a space station somewhere near Venus? Is Morella's Forest the wedding band at the Bizarro world marriage of Simone Weil and Edgar Allen Poe? She's still a bit depressed, still clinging (in the first two tracks and the way-buried cosmic slop closer jam) to her clove-sucking 4AD older brother, still drinking too many of those ginger-health drinks at the 6 am post-rave.
The album constistently surprised, unfolding in directions one isn't ready for, striking some long-ago forgotten familiar chords this generation often forgets once dangled from the Bell Jar-tower. They've grown up to fill out those shiny bondage suits! "From Dayton" begins with luscious Red House Painters-style minimalist strummer with a punchily simple Mad Virgo rhythm attack--a great, contemporaneous single. But after a brief parlay into pumping riffage space rock ("Falling"), which admittedly doesn't seem to fit too well with the rest of the material, the album bends forward into a full-on look back in anger, mixing the brittle verve of some the the best "contemplative rock" bands (Urban Verbs, T.Heads, Devo) with modern smooth museful girly trilling. In the mid-album clumping of "Separate", "1:30 Afternoon," "Bounty Hunter," and "Living On Take Out" the band gives more value on a full-length release than any of their competitiors. For a little while, this seems like a "classic" in the making, or an "alternate world" greatest hits.
The feeling on "From Dayton With Love" is more "song" and "rock" than "drone" and if this genre has at times disappointed with its lack of the previous two descriptions, this would be a great way to alleviate that lack in your collection. Morella's Forest seems to be building up from the deconstructions of post-My Bloody Valentine with post-punk flavor, New Wave crunch, and sticky pop centers. The K.O. one-two closing (official ending) of the album with the white noise bumpundgrind splendid obnoxious spazz anthem "One Glorious Night" and then oozing into a gorgeous and reverent treatment of Kim Wilde's "Kids In America" should not be missed.
- Chris Estey
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