Review: The Alarmists, The Overhead Left

The Alarmists, The Overhead Left
(Instrument Control Studios)

The Alarmists have gone through some turbulent changes in the past six months. Half the previous lineup left after a disagreement about the direction of what would become the band’s third disc, The Overhead Left, and singer/guitarist Eric Lovold regrouped with original members Joe Kuefler and Ryan McMillan. Scrapping a finished album already recorded with producer Andrew Lynch (Earlimart, Imperial Teen), Lovold’s new Alarmists re-recorded the entire thing in his home studio. Whatever the original material sounded like, the finished songs on Overhead Left are polished, uncluttered pop-rock that continue in the same vein as 2007′s The Ghost And The Hired Gun—and could stand to be a little more turbulent, in terms of shaking up the Alarmists’ preferred sound. Though there’s a bit of a Sgt. Pepper feel on “The Elusive Mr. Albright,” Overhead is too familiar. Lovold has a real talent for crafting mid-tempo, melodic tunes in the Guster vein, with winningly catchy work on “Hollywood’s Not My Home” and “Car Crashing” in particular. But The Alarmists don’t show much inclination to break out of that mold. If anything, they’re settling into it, since the sonic palette here is more restricted and monochromatic than either Ghost or the 2006 EP, A Detail Of Soldiers, that rightfully snared the band considerable local praise. The potential for greatness is as palpable here as on Soldiers, but the album never gets out of third gear.

Grade: B-

Originally published in A.V. Club Twin Cities.

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