The Album Leaf

    Into the Blue Again


    Not too much can be said the Album Leaf’s fourth full-length that wasn’t said about its predecessor. For all intents and purposes, Into the Blue Again sounds like In a Safe Place (2004), and whether that’s a good or bad thing really depends on the listener.


    Perhaps the biggest difference is the absence of indie-rock cameos. Jimmy LaVelle (who also plays guitar for Tristeza) holds down the fort almost exclusively here. This can be a good thing (we don’t have to suffer through Pall Jenkins’s phoned-in performances) and a bad thing (we do have to suffer through more of LaValle’s Jewel-ish prose). Into the Blue Again is livelier than its wonderfully comatose predecessor, which again can be a good thing (doesn’t put you to sleep) and a bad thing (I like sleep, damn you; sleep is where she loves me back and Scott Norwood’s kick sails true). The record still drips with pigeon-blood-red chords from LaValle’s Moog (the one that sounds like ten million angels dying all at once and crashing to the Earth), discordant programmed and live drums and layers of dense strings. This is a pretty secure formula for success, pleasant enough to keep shilling for H2s, but LaValle’s artistry and musicianship bring more than enough depth to keep the non-commercially minded interested.


    Into the Blue Again is not essential, but its beauty is familiar and intimate. There is a benign quality to it  — you won’t miss it when it’s not playing and might even ignore it while it’s on. Maybe Ralph Ellison can help us out here; “invisible, a walking personification of the Negative.” Yes, that will do nicely.



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