Aloha Home Acres(Polyvinyl) Buy it from Insound
‘Waiting for a getaway car that never came’ seems a slightly unfair line to single out as a summation of Aloha’s latest contribution to Polyvinyl’s catalogue, but Home Acres definitely leaves us waiting for something that never comes. It’s a familiar feeling with Aloha, as each album since their post-rock days has hinted at something great, but never really delivered on its promise.
If you grew up wearing thick-rimmed glasses and a plaid shirt, listening to Jade Tree and Deep Elm, chances are Aloha drifted onto your radar in about 2004 with Here Comes Everyone, their 4th and most critically acclaimed release. When Home Acres’s opening track, Building a Fire initially rumbles in, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a different band. It’s a direct, economic punch that hints at a more aggressive Aloha, far from the meandering dream-pop of their previous releases. The focus and precision of this opening is, for the most part, continued throughout the album, and some tracks see Tony Cavallario perfectly combine his strongest melodies to date with the intelligently textured rhythms of his band (see album highlight Moonless March). For sure, Searchlight suggests Aloha may just be looking for their first hit, though it might stray too close to the teen-pop of Jimmy Eat World for some listeners.
That said, if songs such as I’m In Trouble do sound worryingly like stuff you used to listen to back in the day, spare a thought for the younger you that would have voraciously eaten this up, because it’s not just angst-ridden emo; it’s smart. Blackout and Cold Storage are good examples of this; they’re unmistakeably Aloha songs, but they’ve taken on a more assured, melodic quality that should broaden the band’s appeal. Granted, it’s unapologetically inoffensive, but the album benefits from strong production that prevents its towering melodies from being too syrupy.
Indeed, the production on Home Acres is noteworthy for several reasons. The dense, oppressive arrangements lend the songs a darker feel, almost suffocating them in thick layers of instrumentation. It offsets Cavallario’s polite, sunny delivery and lends the band an air of seriousness that allows them explore darker, more diverse musical and lyrical ideas than maybe they’d be able to otherwise. Certainly there are enough interesting time signatures and instrumental flourishes to keep the listener entertained for multiple headphone listens.
Aloha have created an album with a strange feel, Home Acres is dark but it’s not cold. It’s a humid album that aptly demonstrates Aloha’s greatest strengths, but also highlights their weaknesses. There’s no killer punch here, no impetus to return to the album once the initial phase of agreeableness has passed, even despite its intricate details. It doesn’t feel like the album that will catapult Aloha into the forefront of anyone’s mind, and nor will it make any best-of lists. Not every album needs to though, and Aloha have been producing decent quality albums for long enough that it’s about time they got more attention.
This album will do no harm to their cause, but there's no doubt we can expect more Aloha's arsenal in the future.12 April, 2010 - 21:19 — Paul Fowler