September 13, 2007

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Foreign Born, On the Wing Now
Dim Mak Records, Aug. 21
The heavens part at last to reveal an indie-rock album that, if anything’s right in the world, should be standard equipment in every car by Thanksgiving. Like autumn itself, Foreign Born’s essence instills a sense of nervously happy dread; there’s an odd coldness to this album that emerges from a few isolated guitar lines but more prominently from a set of ghostly, near-subliminal background layers that defy identification. This one’s a grower in the manner of Arcade Fire’s last couple of records, but that’s the only similarity between the two bands, being that FB lean more toward the Radiohead and Spacemen 3 cemetery of sounds, Cold War Kids and Jesus and Mary Chain along for the ride. Of course, blurbs like that mean precisely jack to the 80-90 percent of readers who aren’t walking All Music Guides, and the band does indeed try to throw non-disaffected types off the scent by putting their least accessible song at the top of the track list, but from there it’s simply stunning, coming across like Verve assigned to beefing up a bunch of unreleased Radiohead bootleg singles. Nothing? OK, try imagining Keane reincarnated as a useful band, or better yet, download “Holy Splinter” and/or “In the Shape” and see if you can articulate the myriad selling points yourself. AEric W. Saeger.