I like pretty things. Puppies. Flowers. My girlfriend. War footage. Homeless people frozen to a park bench in the dead of winter. What’s that? You don’t think war footage and dead hobos are pretty? Well, I don’t either, but there’s a point to be made here. It’s a sick world we live in, but beauty has always been defined by the eye of the beholder. There has to be someone in the world who finds one of those things pretty. So if I simply told you that the new Calla album, Televise, was "pretty," would you even know what the hell I meant? Pretty for you might be that song Eric Clapton wrote for his kid who fell out of the window. To me, that song is totally corny. I would cite Sonic Youth’s "Diamond Sea" as a great example of true beauty in music. But I suppose there’s a middle of the road. Somewhere between the simplicity of a pretty little pop song and the sprawling endlessness of absolute beauty of sonic landscapes, you’ll find Calla’s Televise.
Oh, but the old cliche, Joe! How does it go? I’m glad you asked, dear reader. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Man, they don’t make notions that are vague like that anymore. The kind of disposal snippet of wisdom that goes in one ear and straight out the other. It’s that sort of facelessness that Calla has mastered. This is not to say they can’t write a memorable song. "Strangler" is an amazing song that tosses agressive NYC post rock in a sonic Cuisinart with their delicate slow motion dirges. It’s a great song. Perhaps disproportionately so. Unfortunately, Calla reaches their songwriting pinnacle really early in the album, and it’s pretty much downhill from there.
As the album moves forward, so does Calla. With each passing track they seem to cast away more of the, shall we say, spaciness (as in room, not in outer space) that their music had on previous efforts, including Scavengers. It’s not necessarily a bad move, because Calla wears this new mask quite well. It’s not like they were onto something completely new before this record and suddenly they wandered off the trail that was leading them to the stratosphere of songwriting.
Look, either way you slice it, Calla is a completely good band. They’re just not a remarkable one. But the mainstream musical climate is so ugly nowadays that these guys seem like Television by comparison. Don’t be fooled though, just because they have a pretty face doesn’t mean that they’re the one. But hey, that doesn’t mean you two can’t go out on a couple of nice dates.