Friday, January 10, 2014

Surrounded Safety in Numbers CD Review

Starting off the disc with an instrumental track, Surrounded moves into the second track, “Exit Serenade” with an almost Richard O’Brien-esque (think “Little Black Dress”) opening. Allowing their music to act as a second set of vocals during some tracks (“Exit Serenade, Diesel Palace”), Surrounded, specifically with Marten’s vocals, spoken out with the most care, act almost as Dylan-esque ornaments on an incredibly rich song. Moving onto an emo-jam type session in “Diesel Palace”, Surrounded reduces the importance of vocals to nothing more than another ancillary instrument, making sure that the rich textures of the guitar mesh along with the drums. Continuing the soulful singing and raspy singing of Martin are the following tracks “Pro-files” and “On Top of the World”, the latter of which has the same jangly guitars and splashy drums as “Disintegration”-era Cure. Not afraid to use cello or violin heavily during some of these impressionistic compositions, Surrounded shows a maturity about them that belies the fact that “Safety in Numbers” is a debut album.

Personally, I think it a mistake to go and delineate “Safety in Numbers” into twelve tracks. Each and every song contains enough similarity in it to work with the other tracks, but are innovative enough to go out and hold the listeners’ attention until the end. “Better Not Be So” brings listeners in with its rich and full sound, again aided by the tendency of Surrounded in using classical instruments. The last few tracks of the disc, specifically “All Points Bulletin”, mesh together a more dissonant guitar sound to the general sea of sounds that is Surrounded. Distortion comes crashing into the scene in a major way during “All Points Bulletin”, and yet it does not overpower any other piece of Surrounded. In fact, the guitar distortion opens up a whole other path for Surrounded to go down, one in which differentiation is the key.

“Neglectarine” is the perfect end to this composition, an upbeat track that fades off into a single guitar and children playing. Just as the hopeful singing by Marten began “Linear Elevator” oh so long ago on “Safety and Numbers”, “Neglectarine” recollects the same joy to put the disc to a close. The true beauty of the disc will only be revealed on a full listen, so make sure you have adequate time before putting on “Safety in Numbers”.

Rating : 8.0/10

Top Tracks : “Pro-Files”, “Linear Elevator”

Surrounded – Safety in Numbers
Surrounded – Safety in Numbers / 12 Tracks / 2003 Deep Elm Records / / / Released 06 October 2003 / Reviewed 20 October 2003