American Analog Set The Golden Band

Has the American Analog Set ever seen the sun? Three albums, and three fewer stylistic revelations into their recording career, the Austin group resolutely abides by its somnambulistic, claustrophobic sketches of solitary indoor living. As if to prove the point, a pensive figure half-lit by the 60-watt glow of a table lamp adorns the cover of The Golden Band. The sound of the Set essentially internalises the modern suburban blues pioneered by Galaxie 500, forsaking their incendiary guitar explorations and forward momentum, opting instead for metronomic, brushed drums and a controlled mood of blissful passivity. The Set would likely bristle at yet another comparison to the aforementioned Boston trio, but The Golden Band is the first instance in which it can hang like a proud compliment. At last, the band has created melodies and bewitching atmospheres that enhance, rather than negatively emphasise, their deliberate lack of dynamics. “A Good Friend Is Always Around” is beautiful melancholia, while “Weather Report” and “I Must Soon Quit The Scene” establish an engaging, quiet tension. And, if anyone cares to strain their ear closely enough to listen, vocalist Andrew Kenny is showing himself to be a gifted — if painfully sad — lyricist. Go quietly into that (not so) good night. (Emperor Jones)