Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Bands debut was an obvious one. With low production, and a cluster of safe ideas making for a more straight rock experience, it lacked any real identity, and didnt get them very far. Their first attempted to reach for greatness; their second album Where the Messengers Meet sees them taking themselves more seriously. You finally get to feel a sense of knowing exactly what theyre going for, resulting in cleaner ideas and original moments that give more of a distinct edge to their sound. This is an edge however that weve all heard before, with production tricks that are, for better or worse, a staple for modern rock bands. For the four players, its a brilliant second record thats a step in the right direction, but for us, its easy to place Messengers as just another fish in a crowded sea.
This isnt the same band from their self-titled debut, and theyre very open about it. For Messengers, theyre going for a more grown up sound, something to sink your teeth into thats an obvious step outside their box, and these attempts can result in just as much dullness as fresh excitement. The reality for this band is that theyre trying to find their place in the over-saturated indie rock world, working with a sound thats frankly been done – all while trying to nail down a cohesive identity. Their renewed take is the logical way to go, but its still predictable in many places.
The sloppy, rock edge from the self-titled is polished up and dulled with reverberations and lavish guitar, Yorke-esque high note vocal harmonies sneaking in for the quieter moments. The degree to which Radiohead seems to have influenced the record is a bit startling at first, but it isnt over used as a dramatic device. Still, on tracks like Leaving Trails its the direction theyve chosen to reach for and its quite ambitious. For the rest, what was a more energetic and basic sound, has been slowed down giving it room to spread out. The result is more big anthems, orchestras and sleepy moments as on You Were/I was and Gone Again. The choppy opener At Night combines the old basement sounds technique but reins it in just for the strings, really taking it over the top.
The entire central section relishes in darkness with cellos creeping through Bitter Cold. Its the farthest stylistically that theyve run with, sounding like the Seattle rain in the background for ambiance. The set is long and drawn out, slowing and stretching things with fuller guitars, and those big orchestrations weaving in and out to fill in the gaps.
It seems like a lot of bands are trying to take that next step and go big for a second stab at success. For Mt. St. Helens, when you make songs like The Roof it makes you sound desperate, but when you hit us with a George Clark and Gone Again, we can tell youre on to something. Slowing things down is a tricky beast, and the band almost has it. Theres quite a bit going on and much to get used to as this band evolves. As they build on this sound, theyll find that the only trick left for them will be what to do when they want to strip things down again.