‘Waiting for a getaway car that never came’ seems a slightly unfair line to single out as a summation of Aloha’s latest contribution to Polyvinyl’s catalogue, but Home Acres definitely leaves us waiting for something that never comes. It’s a familiar feeling with Aloha, as each album since their post-rock days has hinted at something great, but never really delivered on its promise. If you grew up wearing thick-rimmed glasses and a plaid shirt, listening to Jade Tree and Deep Elm, chances are Aloha drifted onto your radar in about 2004 with Here Comes Everyone, their 4th and most critically acclaimed release.
Thirteen years and going strong, Aloha deliver another atmospheric, percussive, post-rock record in the vein of classic Thrill Jockey artists (particularly Sea and Cake) that balances mathematical playing and subdued, dreamy soundscapes. Operating from four separate area codes (Washington DC, Brooklyn, Boston, and Cleveland), the four members wrote Home Acres by using a private-band blog over the course of three years before reuniting to record the album. Surviving distance and some roster shifts, the group still sounds like a tight-knit unit.
Aloha practically sum up their new album with the line "your sunrise knocks me to the ground." Hell, that could describe songwriter Tony Cavallario's imagination and career trajectory, too-- his characters occasionally emerge from the shadows, make a small ripple, then retreat. Acres is Aloha's first full-length since 2006's Some Echoes, and it picks up where that album left off: tales of anti-social sadsacks set to a pristine mix of Chicago indie-prog and late-90s emo. Though he's still trying to figure out how to pen a memorable chorus, Cavallario's melodies are sharper than ever here, and they're again ably fleshed out by engineer T.J.
I was genuinely excited when I first heard Aloha’s 2004 album, Here Comes Everyone. I felt like post-rock didn’t just fizzle out, that it had gone somewhere, that this record was the game-saving conclusion. Post-rock had all the makings to follow in the footsteps of jazz-fusion in the 70s, and here it was straight from Cleveland injecting strong, emotional song into the proggish leanings of non-coastal America’s sound.
Aloha’s Home Acres has all the ingredients of a good indie release; refined guitar rushes, choppy bass lines and taut drumming in tight arrangements with a pop feel. And yet, I had a hard time becoming familiar with it even though it was inviting the first time I heard it. After a few more spins I realized it was the vocals that kept me at bay. There’s nothing really wrong with the vocals and I don’t have a problem with any of the lyrics, it’s just that there seems to be somewhat of a disconnect between the music and the singing.