YEAR AFTER YEAR (CAROLINE)
Two things made the oppressively hot summer of ‘93 totally bearable: 1)air conditioning (which I regretted after getting a $160 electric bill) and 2) Idaho’s lovely four song EP Palms (reviewed elsewhere in this issue). This full-length album also features “Gone,” from the EP, but otherwise it takes you onward and upward. In the same way that Codiene’s first album helped clean the cobwebs from my mind and re-evaluate the importance of space in music, Idaho stretches out its songs into spacious tonal treats. Over the course of the 12 songs they even manage a few surprises, picking up the pace midway, but somehow give the impression of continuing on in the same wistful, thoughtful mood as on Palms. When they crunch out on “Here To Go,” it’s only slightly quicker tempo than anything else; they’re a band that shows admirable restraint even in moments of bombast. There does seem to be a lot less delay in use here, adding to the clarity that the sparseness of Idaho’s arrangements seems to cater to rather well. The dryness in arrangement resembles that of their recent tourmates Red House Painters, but Idaho are infinitely more interesting, and more ‘of the people,’ as opposed to the Painters kind of heavy-handed artiness. It’s also akin to sadder folkrockers like Tim Buckley and Nick Drake in terms of capturing the sadness in a smile, and melodically it suggests that if Joy Division had been from Seattle they might have been a blues band instead. In “Skyscrape” they convey a sweetness and a beguiled veil of awe that seems to pervade the rest of the album, popping up again from time to time. Everything is so well measured, well thought out and put together it’s really astonishing that they’ve done so much so well in such a small amount of time. My own private Idaho, but not for much longer, I bet.