Plumbiferous Media

Remind Me Where the Light Is – Great Northern

May 3rd 2009
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Remind Me Where the Light Is - Great NorthernGreat Northern
Remind Me Where the Light Is
Score: 28

Remind Me Where the Light Is is the second full-length album from LA indie group Great Northern, following their moderately well-received 2007 debut album, Trading Twilight for Daylight. Though Remind Me Where the Light Is demonstrates many of the same musical traits as Trading Twilight for Daylight, Great Northern has failed to execute them in as successful a manner on their newest album.

Remind Me Where the Light Is certainly suffers from substantial flaws, but in some cases the same issues which impair the album as a whole create the most tolerable parts of the album. The repetition which becomes overused later in the album is used to somewhat satisfactory effect on several early tracks, most notably on the first, “Story,” in which the static musical patterns and lyrical lines are used to create a passable baseline for the track, though it is merely solid rather than genuinely interesting.

Even if the lyrics of Remind Me Where the Light Is had been incredibly profound, the effect would have been lost through the constant repetition. Perhaps it’s good then that the lyrics are neither worse nor better than mediocre – anything better would have been wasted and anything worse painful. As it is, Great Northern’s forgettable lines about “the weight of the world” and fingers don’t have any especially lasting effect on the album as a whole. Perhaps that’s the best that could be said about them, given how many other aspects of Remind Me Where the Light Is detract from the album.

Repetition (in note sequences, larger phrases, instruments, vocal phrases, lyrics, and in nearly every other nameable element as well) is absolutely the name of the game for Great Northern on Remind Me Where the Light Is. And quite simply, while some of the tracks use repetition to middling success, most of the album simply falls apart. The reason that tracks like “Houses” actually sound decent is because while the instruments are doing little to support the track (though more than on most other tracks) the quite strong vocals and upbeat rhythm of the track manage to make it last at least most of the way through its fourth minute.

What this means, of course, is that once the strong vocals are removed around “Stop” (the fifth track), the album quickly becomes fairly difficult to listen to, and not only because the repetition becomes overwhelming; the album additionally loses a separate musical quality that might not have been recognized if it hadn’t gone missing. The earlier tracks actually had quite interesting harmonies, and made good use of straying in and out of unison, although the effects were repeated so many times that they quickly grew somewhat dull, whereas the later tracks are, if anything, characterized by being just a bit shrill on occasion.

Not only is each track on Remind Me Where the Light Is highly repetitive, but the album as a whole is terribly repetitive. A majority of the tracks on the album are in nearly the same tempo, and the ones that aren’t sound like the rest of the album for separate reasons. In fact, the only track that really sticks out is “33,” and it unfortunately sticks out like a sore thumb, as it neither sounds decent on its own, nor has any strained connection whatsoever to the rest of the album. While there are some redeeming qualities in Remind Me Where the Light Is, and a few fairly decent tracks, the album as a whole remains fairly boring.

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