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The Double - Loose In The Air

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Artist: The Double

Album: Loose In The Air

Label: Matador

Review date: Sep. 20, 2005

A few warbled guitar chords trace a rhythm around an ethereal organ tone, suspended across territory occasionally littered with fragments of a beat. A magisterial vocal melody delivered somewhat haphazardly: “Everyone is waiting up / Every word is hanging / There are no answers as of yet.” It could be a reflection on the night of the 2004 election, it could be a meditation on the state of contemporary youth culture. It’s “On Our Way,” and it could also be any other song on The Double’s formulaic but thoroughly satisfying Loose in the Air.

Joy Division and Suicide stretched a single trick across many years, and though the first band ended with a hanging and the second was effectively ended with a millennial second coming that reintroduced the pair as prophets of some leather-clad, Evian-clutching oblivion, the point remains: Find a gap in pop music’s structure, exploit the hell out of it, give us a few melodies to remember. The songs on Loose in the Air might better be described as quirky than experimental, but there The Double has the musical erudition and mechanical knowledge to destabilize even the most conventional pop song—at times the record sounds like a teen melodrama enduring a comet shower. Once, on “What Sound it Makes the Thunder,” the band strays too far into Neutral Milk Hotel territory, but for the most part the listener is pummeled as much as pleased.

The Double rely on noisy pop music with driving bass-and-hi-hat rhythms, all submitted to the constant threat of deconstruction. A minute or so of fragmented instrumental portent shudders and churns beneath sonorous vocal meandering. Eventually, the trick turns. The boards and nails being tossed around emerge as a polished edifice of glass and steel. Everything is suddenly syncopated. Noise retreats to its rightful place, hovering around the surface of the songs, a constant haze abutting the rollicking melancholia.

By Alexander Provan

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