There is not a single misstep or misplaced note on Carnivore, the debut album from Malibu four-piece Simon Dawes. In the creative vein of Spoon - and the heart of the Beatles - Simon Dawes (band name, not one person) crafts gorgeous, melodic rock 'n' roll with passion and earnestness at each song's core. But what sets Carnivore apart are the intelligent and innovative risks the band members take.
"Execution Song" begins delicate and acoustic and ends with a beautifully distorted - and extended - guitar solo (see "When I Go Deaf" by Low), and "Be Here Right Now" places the heartbeat of a pulsing organ at the center of the melody, around which singer/guitarist/keyboardist Taylor Goldsmith, guitarist Blake Mills, bassist Wiley Gelber and studied drummer Stuart Johnson build and explore.
Carnivore contains dozens of other wonderful moments: Goldsmith's near wail on opener "Save Your Ticket"; Mills's Revolver-style guitar flourishes on "Got a Light?"; the percussive energy of "Have a Heart" (similar to Spoon's "Jonathon Fisk); the entirety of "Salute the Institution" (including a clever lyrical reference to Jimmy Page). But perhaps amidst a near-perfect album, the clearest indication of Simon Dawes's fresh-faced genius can be found in the modesty of the lyrics. From "Got a Light?": "When I grow up / I'll say the things I really mean." Already my pick from best album of 2006, I can only imagine how good this band will be after its members do grow up and reveal the truth.
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