And then there was one. If Travis has cornered the market on being "the invisible band," then Idaho has established themselves as "the evaporating band." At one point, the original lineup had been whittled away to just Jeff Martin. He then expanded the group back to a quartet in time for 1996's excellent "Three Sheets to the Wind". A half decade later, Martin finds himself standing alone again.
I listened to this album over and over trying to find where Martin has evolved or where his sound has shifted. Other than a lack of rockers this time out, this album is virtually of the same cloth as what has come before. Is a lack of evolution a bad thing in Idaho's case? Probably not. The band has achieved the rarefied air of being able to boast both a unique sound and consistently excellent songs.
The album could have used a wee bit more sonic variety. Idaho used to be a rock band. Now, for the most part, they seem to be a guy at a piano. Sure, he's a really great guy at a piano, but it does make me wish that Martin had assembled a lineup capable of delivering worthy followups to songs like "Catapult." Putting aside that disappointment though, most of Levitate is gorgeous, particularly the closing songs "Carousel," "Casa Mia," and "Levitate." This album is sad-core through and through. Fans of Mark Eitzel will want to check this out (and vice-versa I suppose.)
As an aside, I think it would be a really neat idea for Idaho, Map of Wyoming and the Utah Saints to tour together. They could play Boise, Laramie and Salt Lake City. Sure, there isn't a whole lot of similarity between the bands and they probably don't share many fans, but it could be fun. Hey, I'm the guy who suggested that Ratt and Poison go on tour together. Unbelievably, they reunited to do just that. Behold, the power of pun.
this review is/was online at Stinkweeds
and is available here for archival purposes only