Album Reviews

The Goldberg Sisters – The Goldberg Sisters

(PIAS) UK release date: 11 April 2011

Adam Goldberg has his fingers in all sorts of pies – acting, directing, singing, songwriting – and he seems to excel in all areas. Music is his current weapon of choice, a discipline in which he’s already an old hand having released an album as LANDy back in 2009 and established close ties with the likes of The Flaming Lips.

Indeed, it is easy draw parallels between Goldberg’s style and that of Coyne and co’s – psychedelic pop that is at once decadent and intimate – and it is a similarity further augmented by Goldberg’s thespian exploits: this is an LP that, while often musically understated, never wants for a sense of drama.

It is also an album that takes its time in delivering an experience that is often lyrically obtuse but never less than engaging. While one may at times struggle to infer Goldberg’s intended meaning – from the odd Sisters monicker to flowery lyricism – all is delivered with conviction; even the occasional inter-track curiosities.

The Room breaks the ice, its acoustic cadence growing into the cacophonous melodrama of a ’70s Bond theme, before Mother Please (The World Is Not Our Home) kills the bombast in favour of plodding sorrow that is, nevertheless, an appealing listen.

Shush/Ooh La La then sees Goldberg at his multicoloured best, its Casio-ticking, shimmering synth intro crashing suddenly into ELO-style light prog; Goldberg unveiling an uncanny resemblance – both aurally and thematically – to John Lennon‘s defiant solo efforts: “You can shush us with your signs / But there always comes a time / And you’re running out of mine.”

Such heights are scaled again: Don’t Grow offers twisted tree metaphors throughout almost eight minutes of twisted-yet-poppy alt-folk; Erik Erikson seems to nod at Wilco‘s phenomenal Spiders (Kidsmoke), its frantic strum at odds with the more languid tracks either side; Third Person Blues extrapolates the simplest of progressions to classic-sounding ends like a world-weary Turin Brakes.

The Difference Between then cranks up the blues to just the right degree – Goldberg’s delivery again Lennon-esque – before The Skin Of The Patriot (Blame It On Your Youth) casts shade like the funereal indictments of The Black Heart Procession.

All of which leaves ample room for The Heart Grows Fonder, a vintage closer in which plain ideas are compounded into a beautiful whole worth more than the sum of its parts; not unlike Jon Brion‘s soundtracking efforts. It’s a multi-faceted, experiential gem of a track that seems to hint at Goldberg’s comfort in pushing his own boundaries.

But no album is perfect. While The Goldberg Sisters trades on its fine sense of drama, there are moments in which it comes across as indulgent – never more so than willfully weird filler track You’re Beautiful When You Die – and it’s certainly a collection that may raise frustrations in refusing to serve up its virtues the first or even second time around.

Goldberg, though, ought not to be penalised for his occasional switch of stance and self-leniency: this is an album that may not grace millions of record collections, but may well enjoy classic status in those that it does.

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The Goldberg Sisters – The Goldberg Sisters