Remember that line in As Good As It Gets when Nicholson’s character used one of the greatest panty-dropper lines of all time, “You make me want to be better man.” The Big Echo makes me want to become a better reviewer of music. The Morning Benders shine a bright light on my shortcomings as I struggle for words to describe the brilliance of Big Echo. I saw them perform for us in a HearYa Live Session. I watched them perform at our SxSW party in 2009. I listened (and loved) their previous album, Talking Through Tin Cans.‚ At no point could I have imagined that The Morning Benders were capable of an album of this magnitude. Big Echo is an ambitious album with flawless execution.
We posted the video for “Excuses” when it was released and I was slackjawed. Talk about trying to drive the green in one stroke.‚ Lead Singer, Chris Chu, pulled the big stick out of his bag and knocked that shit long, straight, and right on the green. The LP was produced with the help of Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) who apparently saw something special in the Bay Area quartet. I would have loved to hear Chu and Taylor’s conversations as they discussed the nuances and intricacies that made each song sound so sonically creative. At its core, Big Echo is a pop record. It’s also a statement album by a band that will be on everybody’s top of 2010 lists.
The standout tracks for me include the aforementioned Excuses, Cold War (Nice Clean Fight) and Stitches. The piano on Stitches dances right up my spine as the Grizzly Bear influenced harmonies lull me into a state of bliss before the piano gives way to shimmery guitars as the song fades out. It was just so fucking brilliant that there is no way my words can do it justice.
So in the end, I wish I could do a better job of explaining the overwhelming genius on this album. I promise to try to better in the future but for now please trust me when I tell you if you buy this album. You won’t regret it. On every listen, you will find something new to keep your head spinning in wonderment. And that is no easy feat.
Video: The Morning Benders – Excuses