A Lull – Meat Mountain (EP)Posted by Aaron Sharpsteen
If full lengths are to bands as novels are to writers, then an EP like A Lull‘s Meat Mountain can be considered akin to short story. It is a common perception amongst writers that successful short stories are sometimes harder to write than novels, because the requisite character development is confined to a limited space. The same might be said of EPs. On full albums, the presence of one or two throw-away tracks is somewhat forgivable. Not so with EPs. Unfortunately for A Lull, about half of Meat Mountain is unmemorable material.
This isn’t to say that the memorable songs aren’t great. The single, “Summer Dress,” is an absolute jam. Several layers of electronic sounds and a repeated vocal sample are underpinned by complex yet dancy beats. There is even some saxophone thrown into the mix. The song itself is reminiscent of some of the material on The Flaming Lips’ Embryonic, without being overly referential.
Over this pleasing mixture of electronic and organic sounds float the vocals of Nigel Dennis. Dennis’ voice is the constant on the release, retaining its overall quality while often going from a pensive half-whisper to soaring half-shout in the same song without sounding awkward or overbearing. He rises to the challenge of providing vocals to such an experimental outfit very well.
The mixture of electronic and organic doesn’t always congeal, however.”Beaches” sounds like a more percussive but somehow less satisfying offering by Mew. “Still Got Pull” starts off strongly with driving beats, a bass-line that encourages some head-bobbing, and more impressive vocals from Dennis. Around the two minute mark, however, the song gets sidetracked by a bridge that is about 30 seconds too long. Luckily it returns to the compelling combination of samples, drums, and vocals to close out.
Meat Mountain ends with two consecutive songs that are too similar to not be redundant. The closer, “Would That I Could,” does a good job of displaying the mellower side of the band. The band’s propensity to use poly-rhythms is on display here as well, to mixed effect. On one hand, it is somewhat impressive, from a technical stand point. On the other, it makes any finger tapping, clapping or snapping along a bit tricky. The song immediately preceding, “Not About It,” also starts out strongly, with more dance inducing beats and sing-along worthy vocals. Somehow it all derails, and by the end of the song, the line “You’re nothing without me” is being repeated in a melodramatic fashion.
“Always leave them wanting more” may be a show business cliche, but often a cliche achieves that status because it is apt. With Meat Mountain, A Lull may have given us a bit too much, as some of the material would hold do better couched in the space of a full length, rather than a 23 minute EP.