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CD Review: The Furious Seasons

BY TOMMY MORGAN JR. | OCTOBER 01, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Furious Seasons’ Thank You For Saturday, is, at first listen, a record made to think to. The band’s sound on the record can best be described as shoe-gazer folk — think Wilco with Christopher Walken in the producer’s booth, clamoring for more banjo. Because of this, Thank You For Saturday seems almost perfect for staring out the window on a rainy afternoon or driving through the countryside and pondering Big Questions.

Outside of that, though, the album sounds like uninspired music for uninspired people. Musically, the Furious Seasons does provide pleasant melodies and string work that seem almost catchy. Until, that is, one realizes that the songs aren’t really about much of anything. Not in the “Seinfeld” kind of way — where being about nothing is the point and a method for achieving higher thought (or a few laughs) — but in a less insightful way.

To be fair, the album is not without a couple of gems. The opening/title track is so catchy Ben Gibbard might wish he wrote it. The Furious Seasons turns in one of the better drunken laments of the year with the whiskey-soaked, broken-heart “Drown You Out,” a song that makes one want to join the singer as he pours his heart out over one too many drinks in a run-down bar. On songs such as these, it is clear that the Furious Seasons has some talented songsmiths. Unfortunately, it also becomes clear that those writers are capable of better than most of the songs on this record.

Most of the insights attempted on Thank You For Saturday fall flat or are just downright pedestrian and boring. On “Swirling Around,” the band appears to be attempting to make a statement about the nothingness of everyday life, but the most sentiment drawn out of the lyrics is “I sit on the couch, and I eat a brownie.” But when the lyrics are as drab as that emptiness, the statement doesn’t succeed. A song about nothing means nothing.

Thank You For Saturday has a fair bit of heart, and the Furious Seasons has the musical talent to take that heart and make it into something more. This record, however, appears lost in the indie-folk void. At the end of the day, it seems to be one of a thousand other records just like it. Despite their attempts on songs such as the title track and “Drown You Out,” the musicians don’t really make a compelling case for why the album is anything more or better than those other records.

Instead, the music and words seem to do the bare minimum to make the album good, even though that does not make it good. It makes Thank You For Saturday seem like Bright Eyes for Beginners — odd, considering the main men behind the Furious Seasons, David and Jeff Steinhart, have been around for 20-plus years and were recording songs long before Conor Oberst knew what indie rock was.

The album, which at first seems rife with promise, doesn’t really ever deliver. The shallowest of lyrics, coupled with a basic folk primer for a soundtrack, make Thank You For Saturday, despite its beautiful moments, just another album with nothing to truly set it apart from all the rest. Even when the rest are good, this keeps this record and the Furious Seasons from being as great as they could be.


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