Philadelphia -
October 26, 2000

Hearts of Palm


Sounding like a peppier, more upbeat Low (and who wanted Low to cheer up?), Idaho often sounds merely whiny on their fourth album. The L.A. duo — including Idaho mainstay Jeff Martin, who takes credit for "guitars, voice and all other instruments" — has the bedraggled voice and sparse sound down pat, but the album betrays a disturbing tendency to succumb to studio clichés, as if Martin can’t stop looking in the mirror no matter how hard he cries. Just when a song’s about to sweep you up in its melancholic sway, the drive to "rock out" takes over and we’re in Sheryl Crow-ville. (The title track goes from heartbreak to VH1 in the first 30 seconds.) Martin, who also produced, has some neat studio tricks up his sleeve, especially when it comes to piano reverb. But unlike Low, their Minnesotan comrades in angst, Idaho’s sorrow never turns transcendent; Martin sounds like one guy bemoaning his bad luck, rather than loneliness incarnate.

—Sam Adams

Idaho will perform with Matt Pond PA and Audible on Thu., Oct. 26, at the Upstage, 22 S. Third St., 215-627-7079.

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