Continental
four-letter words
U-Dot
2003
C



sounding like the band that would come in between the Album Leaf and Tristeza, Continental’s four-letter words is a record of a band that is slowly moving towards greatness. four-letter words, however, is merely a stepping stone towards this end. Many of the tracks contained here are unmemorable past their first listen or even indistinguishable from the track that came before it.

It is perhaps the curse of the extremely melodically pleasant post-rock band to occupy this sort of space- enough listens will burn these tracks into your brain- but it always requires rapt attention, which these floating guitars and keyboard lines rarely demand. For instance, “Leonid” contains an interesting melody created by Far Eastern sounding bells, but is soon overtaken by the bass playing a counter-melody and a guitar that comes into to steal the show only a minute and a half into this composition. By this point, the guitar and bass interplay has been run through on a variety of tracks, leading the listener longing for the interesting textures of the bells to remain in the foreground rather than pushed off to the side as some sort of accoutrement.

Indeed, when the group decides to stretch out beyond its natural spacey inclinations the more interesting moments occur on the disc. At the end of the first half of the two song suite “The Regrettable Consequences of Our Well-Worn Blinders” the group uses an amount of time to, presumably, improvise a short drone interlude that bridges the two pieces. The keyboards defiant, yet muted, tones strike an interesting dynamic into the middling drums and guitars that flail about in search of some sort of structure. When the structure is found- and the second portion of the suite begins- the release is all the more satisfying and memorable, as opposed to the obviousness of previous song’s constructions. It also helps that this song has the most effecting melodies on the disc.

One of the largest complaints that can be leveled at post-rock bands such as Tristeza is that the line between mantra-like repetition and lack of songwriting skills is an extremely fine one. With four-letter words, Continental proves that their songwriting skills are frequently up to par, but their adventurous instinct is too often reined in towards creating something too pleasant to care deeply about or even remember. But, if their progress from their first LP to this one is any indication, only good things lie in the future for this group as they mature and grow.
Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-18
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