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The National Trust | Dekkagar (Thrill Jockey)
What is it that attracts Chicago's post-rock musicians to the mid '70s mainstream? Eager for a break from polyrhythmic minor-chord dissonance, the scene's leading lights seem to turn inevitably to the sugar-coated delights of a pre-punk America, where blue-eyed soul met chart-bound pop, the birthplace of AOR. Following in the footsteps of luminaries such as Archer Prewitt, Jim O'Rourke and Bobby Conn, The National Trust have fashioned a bright, sparkling jewel of a debut album, a lazy stroll down the great American highway unspoiled by the irony and self-consciousness that has plagued many of their comrades. Opener Making Love (in the Natural Light) sets the scene; a wordless, harmonic introduction leads to a languid, keyboard- drenched epic. Songwriter Neil Rosario's vocals are placed low in the mix to accommodate a heavily orchestrated but still spacious production sound, with loping bass and twittering woodwind redolent of Curtis Mayfield. Feather Clip and Neverstop follow, bright and breezy slices of perfect sunshine pop reminiscent of Archer Prewitt's 'White Sky' album. Side one closes with the album's centrepiece (and masterpiece) See No Evil, a masterful distillation of the record's grander themes into eight short minutes. With a loose, flowing song structure reminiscent of David Crosby, the heaven-sent harmonies of Hall & Oates and the soaring production sound of Shuggie Otis or Steely Dan, this track is perhaps the finest of the year so far. Here, as on the rest of the album, the Trust's dedication to sonic perfection is simply astounding. A record two years in the making (and worth every second), 'Dekkagar' is something of a minor milestone in Chicago's musical development. Lacking the grating self-regard of Bobby Conn or the avant-garde experimental tendencies of Jim O'Rourke, Rosario and producer Brian Deck have crafted a record of sheer, unambiguous beauty, combining the unaffected joys of straightforward songcraft with a breathtaking sonic complexity far in advance of most of their peers.
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002