We’ve hopefully all learned by now the folly of judging a book by its cover. One salient example of this adage is Costa Mesa’s the New Limb. Looking at the quaint, hand-drawn art of their album cover and cutesy promo photos, you might expect something far more precious than the actual contents of their 6-month-old EP, Allude to the Sounds. In reality, the five contemplative, mellow rock tunes wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack of Zach Braff’s next film (should there be one, that is).
When the power goes out, the New Limb make their own fun
On their MySpace, they make it clear “We aren’t Radiohead . . . or the Shins.” Specifying the latter is an interesting bit of self-awareness because there are definite vocal similarities between the New Limb’s Joey Chavez and James Russell Mercer of the beloved indie-pop band. Opener “Autumn Leaves” even moves like a Shins song, with a slow, gentle intro building to a faster—but not too fast—chorus. They do move beyond that relatively obvious comparison, as evidenced in “I Think We’ll Stay the Same,” in which jagged guitar work is paired with such grim exclamations as “three cheers for drudgery” and some spiraling instrumental freakouts, all of which further establishes that there’s nothing twee about this group.
The New Limb, called Jordan’s Ego pre-June 2007, explore diverse sonic territory in Allude to the Sounds’ few tracks, taking seriously their desire to not be boxed into a certain sound or genre. The wordily titled “Cycle Mother Cycle, Goes Round, Round It Goes” conflates ’60s-style harmonies with dark lyrics (“we are the dust”). No matter what appearances may suggest, Allude to the Sounds features pleasingly mature songs that don’t take the easy way out.