The Last Beautiful Day was a breath of fresh air from the insulated (in a non-derogative way) Arts & Crafts family. The debut record from Australia's Sally Seltmann, the main member of New Buffalo, felt more like a Scandinavian release with its light melodies continually reworking the atmosphere through which Seltmann's wonderful voice would travel.
The first tracks off New Buffalo, a collection of unreleased songs and reworkings of tracks from The Last Beautiful Day, are intriguing. Jens Lekman's voice contrasts well with Seltmann's on "Inside (The Corrections)," his rich and full voice an odd but suiting match to Seltmann's higher register. "Trigger" wouldn't have felt out of place on Seltmann's debut, but it would have also felt properly used as a B-side.
The members of Broken Social Scene apply their lo-fi connoisseurship on a remix of "I've Got You and You've Got Me." They succeed in creating a mellow lullaby from an already slow and beautiful song, though the overuse of effects on reworking the vocals becomes tedious and detracts from the remix. Broken Social Scene does a much better job of thickening up Seltmann's song musically, and in this department the use of effects is well implemented.
Seltmann's voice is allowed a beautiful freedom on "The Beginning of the End," a slow and folk-esque ballad. The guitar and organ sparsely fill the song and Seltmann's voice picks up all of the slack. The next song, "Stay Here While You're Gone," focuses much more strongly on the music. Piano and strings sway and build into an impressive conclusion, all while the vocals float gracefully along with the rising notes.
The EP's final track, a second version of "I've Got You and You've Got Me," sounds like a bizarre Weezer B-side. Overly distorted guitar resonates under Seltmann's voice, and although neither are poorly done, this song feels a little redundant and unnecessary.
For a collection of unreleased songs, the six-track New Buffalo isn't a bad little record. Unfortunately it is not as versatile as The Last Beautiful Day, nor does it cover the same emotional spectrum. Of course, Jens Lekman didn't appear on that record, so now we're faced with a dilemma: spend money on two packs of cigarettes or an Australian indie-pop EP featuring the wonderful talents of Mr. Lekman? The decision, America, is yours.
Label: http://www.arts-crafts.ca/Streaming audio: http://www.myspace.com/newbuffalomusic
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