Reviews:: The Ginger Envelope Edible Orchids

Over the years, my idea of a "headphone album" has changed considerably. In high school, I was looking for Redman to explode out of my yellow, tinny, Sony headphones. I'd play it as loud as poosible, letting everyone know I was "down." I gradually moved into punk rock, but essentially the draw was the same.

Now, I'm old and tired. Instead of volume, I look for records that use subtle flourishes and instrumentation that moves at a pace more like my own. When I first tried to listen to the new Ginger Envelope record - Edible Orchids - at work, it kind of slipped by unnoticed. There were moments that grabbed my ear, but it sort of blended into the white noise and office chatter.

To be honest, I was ready to dismiss it completely until Failsafe randomly came on when I walked home. As I strained to hear the opening acoustic riff, the band added drums, horns, a nice electric noodle and slide that danced around my headphones. Each note seemed perfectly placed, but never overpowered Patrick Carey's vocals. The song stuck into my head almost immediately and moved at the perfect speed to soundtrack my afternoon saunter.

I guess it shouldn't be surprising that the songs are interesting: The Ginger Envelope features the amazing steel work of Matt Stoessel (he played with Centro-matic, so not much else needs to be said), the occasional backing vocal from Karolyn Troupe (Venice is Sinking) and the confident bass lines and drumming of Stephen Miller and Jason Robira, but it's actually the beautiful guitar lines of Jason Trahan that provide the most enjoyment for me.

Caretaker starts with an almost folk-infused Sea & Cake riff, but it's the little flourishes that make this so rewarding. The piano that shimmers in the background and the bouncy bass line never steal the spotlight, but the gentle swoons really support Carey nicely. The songs aren't jammed full of hooks, instead they unfold like the plot of a good novel. Songs like Night Swimming showcase Stoessel's steel work, but the notes morph into the folk-pop vibe and Carey's light vocal delivery, instead of making the tracks yet another roots anthem.

Kites floats along effortlessly, with the child-like wonder you'd expect from the song's title but the majority of the songs seem to balance the sweet and the sour. Carey's lyrics usually contrast the pleasant sounds the band gravitates towards.

If you are looking for dance punk riffs, staccato computer effects or huge booming guitars, this album is not for you. But if you are up for letting sounds reveal themselves slowly, almost shyly, you will be pleasantly surprised by this record.
MP3:: Failsafe
MP3:: Drift

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