Wrens The Meadowlands

No one can accuse New Jersey indie pop icons the Wrens of rushing things. Having been MIA from record shops since 1997's Abbott 1135 EP, the quartet returns with its third and hands down finest full-length record. The 13 tracks that make up The Meadowlands are singularly spectacular achievements that shatter all pre-conceived notions of what it takes to write great songs. Collectively, this record is to indie pop in 2003 what Pet Sounds was to American rock music in 1966. Like that classic record, The Meadowlands is a record that takes quite simple and straightforward songs and turns them on their ear through the use of atypical arrangements and instrumentation, brilliantly realised vocal melodies and a general sense of purpose — that being to make a record that refuses to easily or comfortably fit any single genre (and with four songwriters in the band, that's almost unavoidable). The minimalist opening strains of "The House That Guilt Built" (which features guitar, voice, crickets and cars) gives way to the epic, slow-building "Happy.” What follows runs the indie rock music gamut from gritty Pavement-like head bobbers "This Boy is Exhausted" to the Pixies-tinged "Faster Gun" and the brooding "Thirteen Grand," which recalls Ian Brown. In fact, in their quest for ingenious and original pop rock, the Wrens come across like an American version of our own beloved Rheostatics. Intelligent, artistic and inspired and well worth the wait. (Absolutely Kosher)