Verdict = Their “pop” record is also their perfect record
Anyone who regularly visits Forest Gospel is probably aware that we tend to gush unapologetically over the albums that we adore. I for one am probably most guilty of being super excited about albums to the point of extensive hyperboles. I guess it follows that we are much more fans than critics (hence our abolition of a rating system that never seemed to travel below an 8). Anywho, we are also selective, meaning we only write about the music we love, and just for the record we absolutely adore Subtle. Forest Gospel’s name, as some of you may be aware, hails from an Animal Collective song. It is kind of an ode to a band who’s unending creativity and high standard of musical output has charmed us to almost no end. As highly as we all think of Animal Collective in these parts, the blog may as well have been named 'Our Hero Yes' in respect of Subtle. The bands may mine widely different genres and forms, but the essence is that both are on the forefront expanding what pop music is and what it can be. Last night I spent a late night, beyond all better judgment, at The Urban Lounge to witness the monstrosity that is the Subtle machine live. It is my third time seeing the group and it never gets old. Dose One’s spastic, microphone hopping showmanship; Jel’s mind-blowing drum pad mastery, Alexander Kort’s vigorous cello playing and Jordan Dalrymple’s and Marty Dowers’ multi-instrumental bombast (and of course Dax’s looming spirit); simply put the band couldn’t stand to lose one member. Live, they were perfectly formed, tight, compelling and beyond awesome. ExitingARM is no different. The band’s professed “pop” album, ExitingARM definitely strays a bit more from the hip hop roots of the previous albums in the trilogy of 'Our Hero Yes', with Dose One adding much more melodic vocal lines and plenty of hooks. Don’t get worried though, Subtle do what they do with expertness and Dose’s tongue twisters are not gone completely from the album. To be honest, I have been listening to ExitingARM for awhile now and initially I found the transition to more pop oriented songs slightly difficult. However, after repeated listens, the infinitely layered album continues to become more and more amazing, unfolding into a pristine document of everything that is good about the band. On ExitingARM Subtle has truly reached the “genrelessness” that they have always pined for, incorporating just about everything to create a hyper, glowing document of complete originality. There is no way I am going to dissect this thing, just suffice it to say that ExitingARM is the best album so far of 2008.
Subtle - "Unlikely Rock Shock"