Release Date: Jul 14, 2009
Record label: Vagrant
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Alex Ebert and his band hark back to a carefree age of patchouli and bell-bottoms on their debut. This is intoxicating psych-indie for heady days in unbroken sunshine..
In the age of the web 2.0 revolutions, it’s clearer now more than ever that technology has taken its toll on modern life and the general idea of consensus. The idealism of the past has been diluted and dissected. We have become more absorbed with individualised opinions confined to textual and visual spiels of rancour or love that, in their minutiae, are all essentially different.
"40 Day Dream," the Motown-infused, OutKast-inspired, heavily orchestrated "Beatlesque" soul jam that opens Up from Below, serves as a pretty good litmus test for what follows. Listeners who are put off by the robe-wearing Polyphonic Spree's cultish glazed-eye self-help anthems or cringe when they hear the Mamas & the Papas' "Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon" would be advised to get off the magic bus early, as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros have crafted a love letter to Laurel Canyon and all of its quasi-mystic juju that is as infuriatingly contrived and retro as it is forward-thinking and majestic. Formed in 2007 by Ima Robot frontman Alex Ebert, the mammoth 11-piece outfit embraces "the Summer of Love" with enough period beards, fonts, and Eastern mysticism to launch a thousand "Magical Mystery Tours," but despite all of the analog equipment and peacenik grandstanding, standout tracks like "Home," "Desert Song," and the aforementioned "40 Day Dream" sweep you up in their grandeur like a patchouli tornado and dare you to take your clothes off and jump in the lake with them.
Many an album's faults are forgiven if it opens well, and this might turn out to be one. 40 Day Dream rolls in irresistibly, combining the Faces, Arcade Fire and Phil Spector in a marvellous, good-natured piece of what in the 80s was known as "the Big Music". It's the one that will have crowds cheering and singing along when they play live - but there's a risk those same crowds will be chatting away through the rest of the set.
Remember Fruitopia? How good that sounded for a couple minutes? They'd roll out these big, beautiful kaleidoscopic ads before movies sometimes, swarming strawberries in stereo, and you'd look down at your Cherry Coke and feel somehow as though you'd failed. Of course, in the lobby's light, you came to find out that Fruitopia was not in fact made by hippies using ecologically sound methods for growing giant fruit, but rather extracted and besaccharined by the very Coca-Cola corporation that had seemed like the source of so much pancreas-punching horror not moments before. Fruitopia was, in a way, more evil than your simple soda; evil, because it tricked you into believing it was good when it wasn't.