Treasure State
Migration

Woodson Lateral
2005
B-



inesse is Treasure State’s greatest asset. While their music may initially come off as an unasked for resuscitation of late-nineties emo maneuvers, this graceful trio plays its shimmering riffs loose and with a delicate touch—but is it enough? Guitarist/vocalist Robert Mercer has played in the similarly intimate Downer Trio with ex-Silkworm vocalist Joel R. L. Phelps so it’s no surprise that the band is primarily interested in the possibilities of a standard rock trio—spinning little ideas onto big ones not by massing track atop track, but by the lucidity of the three instrumentalists.

Mixing emo and post-rock elements together and coming out somewhere between Modest Mouse, Tortoise, and the Promise Ring, Migration could use a little of the mania of the first, maybe the grasp of mood of the second—and not much from the third, really. But in “Summer of his Youth” the slinky guitars and nonchalant grooves, topped off with Mercer’s likeably straining voice, are enough. “A Study in Demographics” makes best use of the band’s dynamics, settling into a barely-there whisper before stirring itself awake again like a sleepy mid-sized animal.

The sound wears thin over the length of “Today Is Persistent” and “Empire” though, where the band rides its sculpted riffs impeccably, if a bit bloodlessly. No surprise that these are the songs that run longer, lacking the refreshing brevity of the successful tunes. “The New Elysian Fields” wins for most fun in the shortest time, with chiming guitars, faltering vocals and a nice, wayward tag at the end. On the other hand, “Contest Winners” excuses itself far too soon after coming on strong.

Ultimately things may be too restrained. Too many songs lope to their conclusion, struggling to define themselves, and the experience as a whole needed more time than I would usually have to give before sinking in. That finesse might be a double-edged sword, after all.

As a hopeless prognosticator of future trends, I guess the best thing I could say about Treasure State is that they seem to be undertaking a doomed endeavour. Now watch them blow up, right? Which would be just fine, but I’d be surprised. Not because they are a bad band—far from it—but there seems to be a spark that’s missing. Without it, there’s a sense of been-there-done-that which drags Migration down, and which the band—for now at least—fail to overcome.



Reviewed by: Chuck Zak

Reviewed on: 2005-03-01

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