Vermont, an emo supergroup of sorts, is a side-project for Davey VonBohlen and Dan Didier, (both of The Promise Ring) and Chris Roseanau (of Pele). Calling Albany, the group's second full-length release, is a departure from the intensity and volume its members find in their primary bands. Subdued yet seething with a sturdy determination, these twelve songs spin a web of almost perfectly sad, dreamy pop.
Particularly (ironically?) beautiful despite their peculiar titles, songs like the "Ballad of Larry Bird" and "Where the Wild Drums Are" scream in whispers of something vague, aching to be released. The lyrics reflect an understanding of the significance of the seemingly small and unimportant expressions and gestures that make up the essence of love, in contrast to the frightening crescendos and schmaltzy expressions often present in pop lyrics. When he croons, "I'd like to kill an hour hearing about your day" (from "Kill an Hour"), Van Bohlen's hunger for simple pleasures is almost tangible.
Von Bohlen's voice, almost unrecognizable at first, is a straining, beautiful gem, bringing human desire, fallibility, and a sly wit to a form (emo-pop) that can often get lost in navel-gazing and melancholy. The mood set by his voice is reinforced with mostly acoustic arrangements, gentle, almost drum-less percussion and various serene and calming atmospheric sounds.
Calling Albany is a beautifully clumsy, emotionally fearless and intimate work, invoking memories of childhood mornings and days on the verge of adulthood spent under rumpled sheets, making plans for the future. The passion will knock you out with a delicate hit. Pick this one up as quickly as you can.