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Timesbold | Self-titled (Trust Me/BlueSanct)
Almost a year since the enlightened Benelux region released this excellent record (on Zeal Records), the rest of the world has the chance to catch up. With an EP championed in our own pages by the redoubtable Greg Weeks and accolades accrued across Europe, the groundwork has been set for Brooklyn's Timesbold to build upon.

The five-piece band comprises lyricist and lead vocalist Jason Merritt who, with Dan Goebel, Tony San Marco, Gabriel Walsh and the economically monikered Max, handles many of the two dozen instruments deployed throughout this full-length. Despite the plethora of bowed, struck and strummed devices on display, however, this is no exercise in cluttered, dense Beefheartian inaccessibility. Indeed a cursory listen would have you believe 'Timesbold' (the album) was the work of a stripped-down acoustic trio.

After the relative gusto of opener Gin I Win, (which includes the memorable refrain, "you can't tell it like it is 'cause there ain't no like it is"), the album veers only occasionally from its satisfyingly mellow core and course. Instead the record relies on a commanding restraint and economy that precisely complements Merritt's narratives, which are more obtuse than an initial listen may suggest. What is immediately apparent, but diminishes with subsequent plays, is the similarity of Merritt's voice to that of a reined-in Will Oldham or Jason Molina. With no apparent affectation, Merritt delivers his words with lazy conviction, creating (in unison with the music) a forty-five minute diversion into a world just beneath the surface, where "an angel is reeling in really cheap shoes," "and someone innocent drowned." A world of "funeral carts and candy canes" where we're asked to "pay a little more attention to the atmospheres." Amid the vivid imagery and resonant air of Timesbold it's an almost irrefutable response.

Matt Dornan
March-April 2003