To a certain extent, it feels as though each of the four members of The Double play in their own band. The instruments are frenzied and withdrawn, the production is sparse, and the vocals meander. So it becomes safe to say that these guys have no business playing under the same bill – much less on the same record. The surprising element of this equation is that it actually works on Loose in the Air. Somehow, The Double, a group of morose-sounding Brooklyn shoe gazers, manages to make a record that is both thick and atmospheric, yet also an enjoyable listen.
The Double’s loose, experimental playing tendencies are liable to gain them the ambient-pop label. Fortunately for the already overly crowded post-punk scene, Loose in the Air has the mobility to lean toward a more accessible, impatient listener. At 10 tracks, all it takes is two, maybe two-and-a-half spins to realize that these guys may not be another East Village-copycat band. They immediately sound like dozens of contemporaries, but as an entire album, Loose’s dizzying musical style proves to be more ambitious.
Take, for example, the detached vocal infections of singer David Greenhill. Apart from his own introspective whine, he evokes a variety of other glaringly specific musical voices. At one point, he has the slack-jawed saunter of Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus (“Hot Air”), and the next he’s toying with the timbre of Interpol’s Paul Banks (“In the Fog”). Greenhill’s distant, almost careless vocal arrangement threads airy bass and screeching guitar in with a seamless suture.
“Idiocy” is the album’s siren song, a track labeled with a galloping drum beat and catchy vocal tick. In the No. 2 spot, this sets a high standard for the rest of the record. Though few other tracks contain the vivacity and drum-along mood of the potential single, each song conjures another mood of sarcasm and filthy New York moodiness.
Greehnill’s vocals aren’t the only effects-laden additions, and it sometimes feels the whole album was dipped in a vat of reverb and hung to dry next to a stinky Brooklyn dumpster. Loose sags when The Double let their distant complexities become too distant, leaving the listener well near tears of anticipation for when the reverberating wail and mopey whine will cease. For instance, two minutes of near silence precede the seven-minute snoozer “Dance.” Fortunately, this aura of elitism is masked by The Double’s constant stabs at musical reinvention.
Loose has a beckoning replay value that, until after the second listen, is almost invisible. But it’s albums like this that provide trinkets of pleasure after careful consideration time and again. Though it lags in the well-treaded waters of Brooklyn post punk, it proves that this foursome means to create more than just a well-dressed ambiance and dirty martini.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars