System And Station

In The Twilight (Reissue)

Written by: PP on 23/06/2009 20:16:53

Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing the third System And Station album "A Nation Of Actors", which was an excellent example of how eccentric, experimental indie rock can be far more interesting than the genre description will initially tell you. The way these guys transcended genres with a distinct sound that's undeniably theirs gained the band a lot of respect in my eyes, and seeing another one of their records land in our mailbox had my lips drooling from excitement. Unfortunately it wasn't their new, yet-unreleased fourth album, but a re-issue of their 2005 debut "In The Twilight", but that's okay because I hadn't heard the record before, and now that I have, it's right up there with "A Nation Of Actors".

System and Station have their own sound, there isn't anyone else who sounds exactly like these guys. That's also why they are such an enjoyable listen, for you never know what's coming next. They play intelligent, experimental indie rock with lots of casual tempo shifts and angular riffs that burst into different directions, giving the otherwise slow-to-medium tempo songs a great energy. Some of the songs are smooth and delicate, featuring extra instruments like electronic organs (at least that's what they sound like on "Oregon", for example), while others are much more direct, in-your-face with an added element of post-hardcore in the mix. A song like "See You On The Moon" showcases these guys at their best: the guitars are wonderful, going in every direction at the same time while maintaining a mildly distorted, high-pitch ring to them. The vocalist croons in a slightly whiny voice (in a nicely warm way), ranging from powerful high-pitch singing to delicate and silky-smooth stuff at mid-range.

The first three tracks are all really strong, upbeat songs that are rich in melody and longevity. They are then followed by a slower sound in "Patience To Burn", which starts off rather uneventfully in comparison to the songs before. The first two and a half minutes or so feature delicate guitars and silky vocals, which are good for absorbing the sheer awesomeness of the songs before, but they aren't anything to write home about. Then all of a sudden the guitars crash, the time-signature changes rapidly, and soaring vocals take over. In an instant, the song has changed from delicate indie into an experimental post-hardcore song that even spills over to punk rock at times. The rock'n'roll styled mini solo towards the end sounds fuckin' rowdy as well. A similar formula can be found on "Same As You", which also starts with gentle keyboards, soft ambiance, and a loud bass-line. The band again spends the first half of the song experimenting with various guitar melodies, but around the half-point mark the soaring vocals and angular guitars take over. The quiet/loud shifts are completely seamless and make the songs so much more interesting than if the band just played on quietly for the whole duration. When they aren't busy building up experimental soundscapes and exploding them into soaring melodies, System And Station are rather happy at just delivering back-chilling scaling vocal harmonies, as evident on a track like "Spanish Tree". There's something about this dude's voice that makes these songs work so well; he sings so calmly, yet with such emotion and devotion to the music that you can't but admire his ability. Where some vocalists need to scream and yell, and others just need to place a significant amount of power behind them, this guy is at his best during his relaxed moments. Think of Copeland's softest moments, or even the dude from The New Frontiers for a point of reference.

While most indie rock bands tend to follow a set formula for the genre, and some are even successful in doing just that, System And Station's debut album "In The Twilight" and their third album "A Nation Of Actors" demonstrate a band that's walking their own path, writing heartfelt music that just feels so right in every way. You know they've got it right when ten listens in you're still discovering new intricacies in every song.


Download: See You On The Moon, Spanish Tree, Patience To Burn
For the fans of: Copeland, Built To Spill, The New Frontiers
Listen: Myspace

Release date 28.04.2009
(original release date 2005)
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