Idaho: Levitate

"santa claus is weird"

Idaho's relative obscurity remains a mystery to me. Aside from a brief spin in the hype machine during the mid-nineties, when Jeff Martin was garnering critical comparisons to Kurt Cobain, Idaho have flown completely under the radar of everyone for the past seven years. Meanwhile each subsequent Pedro the Lion album has stolen more and more of the Idaho sound and hasn't manage half the lyrical beauty.

The latest Idaho album is effectively a Jeff Martin solo album, as he plays all instruments except some of the drums, and handles all the writing duties. This makes for the quietest Idaho offering to date. "Levitate" never reaches the moments of sublimity the bouyed "Alas," their first post-Caroline release (and easily their best album), but sits comfortably alongside "Hearts of Palm" as a work of assured lyricism.

Musically-speaking much of "Levitate" doesn't leave a profound impression, with many of the tracks coming across more as piano-based studio experimentations that were never fleshed out as finished songs. The two very strong exceptions here are the title track and "For Granted" which number among Martin's best work.

It's a nice album, and sadly, no-one, I suspect, other than current Idaho fans will ever hear about it, or bother to pick it up. Current fans will be more than satisfied. And anyone thinking of buying It's Hard to Find a Friend should make sure they have at least one Idaho album in their collection first.

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