Album Review: “Big Echo” by The Morning Benders

“Big Echo” opens with the sound of an old record spinning beneath its needle before the melody of the single, “Excuses,” gracefully enters. A string section reminiscent of an old time ABC recording sweetly sweeps in, a poignant marker of what one can expect from the rest of this terrific album. Bearing the stylistic tendencies and now familiar techniques of producer Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles) “Big Echo” is making a big and deserved splash.

Songwriter and lead singer Chris Chu is a relic. Not physically, but philosophically. The ease of his delivery and his tasteful, earnest lyrics are something particularly rare. It would be a shame for someone like this dirty fucking hipster to claim that there is a dearth of honesty in today’s music, for that would be untrue, but Chu’s lyrics bear a tenderness, a boyish charm laden with wisdom and insight; and that’s pretty rare, no matter which era you’re talking about. “I put no one else above us / We’ll still be best friends when all turns to dust” he sings in the opening (brilliant) track, which is one of many possible examples of his endearing songwriting. His voice itself is also as pure and naturally gorgeous as, dare I say, a summer’s day? Perhaps a Shakespearean sonnet isn’t false praise for this young band from Berkeley, CA. There is something extraordinarily poetic about “Big Echo,” so a comparison to the father of the Modern English language resonates with some acuity.

This dirty hipster supposes that “Big Echo” can be categorized as this new-fangled type of surf rock that has emerged in the past six months or so, but it really is much more than that. It doesn’t rely on gimmick to sell itself, despite the obvious hand of Chris Taylor at work. Even still, such a hand, while remarkably noticeable, does little more than allow the songs and the arrangements to speak for themselves. And these are bold arrangements, not afraid to stop unexpectedly, not afraid to go on and on until a resolution appears (i.e. a 5 minute and 17 second single).

Fresh-faced, charming and rather brilliant, The Morning Benders are a band to fall in love with, and “Big Echo” is a must-buy. This dirty fucking hipster highly recommends it and promises that you will have spent your money well if you nab this off iTunes. -DFH

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