Miranda Sound | Western Reserve (Sunken Treasure)

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Impressionable teens and disgruntled middle-aged persons alike will relate to the button-pushing antics Miranda Sound has offered.

 

If you look for a theme in the new Miranda Sound disc, a line from the fourth track “My Surname’s an Airplane” may sum up the internal conflicts and psychological damages emanating from the album’s lyrics: “I’m terrified of future regrets.”

Like Miranda’s 2002 release, Engaged in Labor, the narrators of Western Reserve’s 12 tracks speak in a serious tone, reflecting on past failures, present-day compromises, and confusions, and, as stated, future regrets. “Workbook Light & Power,” a low-key, minute-long track, honestly claims, “I’m too weak to make a change” before asking, “Am I too old to make a change?”

The assault on the psyche is not limited to the first person. The actions of the current American administration are highly (and rightly) criticized on several tracks. “Calculator for Words” and “We’re Making Amends ” are the more blatant attacks, with lyrics like, “We stand puzzled by your operations again/You think you’ve been good to us, but we don’t see your plan” (“Calculator”) and “So it’s four more years of empty glares/and dangerous agendas/to take us back in time” (“Amends”). Miranda doesn’t leave out the Bush Kool-Aid drinkers, either. With such lines as, “The only thing we‘re good at now/is patting our own backs,” “Control” is a damning statement about America’s nationalistic mentality.

The most alluring aspects are not simply the suffocating introspection and political philosophizing. The quartet’s musicianship is something that needs to be experienced in a live setting but can be appreciated on recorded media. Dan Bell’s drums often pound like a hangover (“Close Calls”), while bold strokes make for growling guitars and inventive overlays. The more unique aspects of Miranda Sound are the dynamic vocal inventions and bouncing harmonic wordplay by co-frontmen Billy Peake and Dan Gerken.

This is an album for the disaffected and anyone who rarely stops to look in their private review mirror. The first lines of “Jackson Milton” ask, “Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you aging gracefully?” Impressionable teens and disgruntled middle-aged persons alike will relate to the button-pushing antics Miranda Sound has offered. But the questions are still posed: Are you satisfied with where you have been? Are you happy with where you are going?

 

RIYL: Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, All American Rejects


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