What compelled Barsuk Records to drop its latest almost-emo dud at the beginning of spring is beyond me. Why, when I could be banging heads with Ben Kweller or indulging in surfwax fantasies with Weezer’s blue album reissue, would I decide to immerse myself in the frostbitten melancholy of Aveo’s Battery?
Had it been released in December, I might accept Battery a little more graciously for its lament of three young love-strucks hailing from a snow-covered Seattle. I might mention how the tone of the record challenges even Beck’s Sea Change in darkness and introspection. I might appreciate how the Smiths’ influence and the distant sound nicely complement a day spent sitting in front of a window, staring incessantly at a grey sky.
But forget about all that. It’s the springtime, which means blue skies, sunglasses and listening to Nick Drake in your car at night with the windows rolled down. Let’s face it: there’s a reason Death Cab for Cutie put out Transatlanticism in the dead-leaved October — it just ain’t summer material.
Despite release-date woes, Battery is a decent album with nicely shaped songs and mature lyrics that hooked Barsuk, the label that houses Death Cab and the Long Winters. The liner notes read like Macaulay Culkin’s post-Home Alone 2 diary, but the typical sad-kid mentality is presented with a twist of earthy poetics. Contemplating self-esteem, William Wilson sings, "When confidence is weak, pull up the floors and take a look around / It lies there in the dust that dreams of brooms."
Even beyond their status as adequate lyricists, Aveo’s sound (nudged by Built to Spill producer Phil Ek) is static but solid. Rooted in a straightforward power-trio formula, the music maintains a distant air that beckons you farther and farther into the cold north as Battery marches on.
The band can’t be blamed for its songs upholding a Northwestern-bred chill, but it can be blamed for bringing that bitter wind into my warm, sunshiny spring. There’s a time and a place for this album, but it sure as hell doesn’t fall any time after the spring equinox. Go forth, wax your board, drink something with a little umbrella in it, and make a note on this album that reads "Do Not Open ‘Til X-mas."