Dear Band

Alabaster Rhumb

I LOVE THE WAY YOU . . . craft songs that play like Grimm Bros. fairy tales—bouncy, optimistic melodies that turn (shockingly!) into a dark type of pop-punk freakout. And I love your simple progressions tied to erratic vocals that are so over-the-top I wonder if you're playing the ironic Weird Al card and I'm just missing the joke. And that voice of yours, which, to your advantage, sounds like nothing I've heard before: a cross between a hyper Antony (the androgynous singer from Antony & the Johnsons) and a 14th-century bard holding forth on the tavern floor. And on acid.

BUT I HATE THE WAY YOU . . . actually sing your songs—your vibrato is an instrument you haven't mastered but continuously bludgeon the listener with. The few times your pitch actually changes feel like the deepest breath post-coma—a relief and a necessary break. Without drums to supply something to hold the attention of our ADD-riddled listening culture, your range is what is going to command attention. And how necessary is all that bullet-train strumming when you've already got your audience swaying to what could be some fairly decent songs? It's as if the fever for inventiveness has deafened you to the limits or possibilities of your own talent—and it's highly unlikely you're going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to acoustic guitars backing poetic ramblings.

SO I WISH YOU WOULD . . . latch on to an existing movement instead of foraging for your own. Freak folk (à la Devendra Banhart) seems to be doing well, and you've already got nature cred with lyrics like, "As bound to this earth as I am everything/I never stood a chance to escape, now I plead . . . /I want to be a bird." Or you could go the route of child entertainer. I can easily see these songs developed into some kind of children's program with you dressed up in a green felt elf suit, bell-tipped shoes chiming as you twirl across the stage.

 
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