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Alsace Lorraine | Through Small Windows (Darla)
This here is the sort of music to stare out of windows to as the car pulls away and he/she/they recede into the distance, never to be seen again. The Chicago-based three piece Alsace Lorraine is well-versed in the music of longing and irretrievable sadness. For example, the eponymous instrumental track that pops up late in the album features a chord progression that somehow becomes even more poignant as the song plays and gives listeners a reason for a faraway glazed look. The problem - and there's always a problem, isn't there; nestled in with all the good stuff - is how the album piles up, song after song. There's nothing off-putting in the music, nothing that strikes such a false note that the song becomes cringe-worthy. The album just drifts by without signposts. There's no songs that truly stand out and force you to walk over to the jewel case to check which track is playing. Singer Caitlin Bryce has a voice that can be defined, unfortunately, as breathy. It's never forthcoming, never telling, never emotional enough to give off more than the feeling of a resigned "ah." Her one note is beautiful but it's one note nevertheless. 'Through Small Windows' is the type of album that can be enjoyed in small, almost tiny, increments. Even the length of one song may be too long. It's a series of nice moments, like the languid way the instrumentation spreads out under Bryce's voice in the middle of Summer Days At Home, the clean strum of guitars that open the first track You Are Like Charles Lindbergh To Me, but a uniformity of pleasant unobtrusiveness still gets boring after a while. A different sort of longing appears: longing for an undeniable tune.

Craig Taylor
November 2001