Hippo Manchester
November 3, 2005

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Thin Dark Line

The Resolution

One Eleven Records

*

I had a bad feeling about this CD before I listened to a note of it. Consider the following:

(1) The band’s Web site proudly proclaims that The Resolution is a “concept album.”

(2) The fact that it’s an Enhanced CD, with multimedia content playable on a PC, is also apparently not only noteworthy, but groundbreaking and mind-blowing. Welcome to 1995.

(3) The band’s MySpace.com profile is filled with fawning praise by 20-ish-year-old girls.

Finding out that two of the band members are brothers only thrilled me more. The Resolution is essentially the first full album by a Maryland band with regional appeal; it somehow managed to get national release on One Eleven Records, an oxymoronic “indie label.”

The songs? Well, despite the fact that they’re relatively indistinguishable from either each other or those of dozens of other hard rock indie bands, they’re well-produced and create some involuntary foot-tapping. The musicians are clearly talented; slick guitar licks, drum stings and bass lines raise the mediocre content to at least a listenable level. It’s like Alec Baldwin on Will & Grace.

The fact that the music wasn’t quite as lame as I expected, coupled with some truly neat cover and booklet art, nearly saved The Resolution from my undying hatred. Unfortunately for them, the band members had the brilliant idea of including video of themselves discussing every single track, in all its depth and meaning, on the Enhanced CD. Without this feature, I would never have known that the track “Rites of Spring” was, according to the lead singer, named after “the first emo band ever.” Um, yeah, excuse me while I harf. Ever hear of a dude named Igor Stravinsky? Cripes, ever see Fantasia?

Lead singer and lyrics writer Bryan Barnes sums up the CD pretty well in “All the Facts, None of the Flavour,” by his own admission about writer’s block: “An uninspired poet wrestles with his words.”

— John “jaQ” Andrews