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Album Review

Pedals fulfills the immense promise of the Aluminum Group's previous recordings, largely dispensing of the derivative synth-pop detours which hampered the preceding Plano to concentrate instead on the lush, darkly romantic, orchestral arrangements distinguishing the band's finest work. Co-produced by Jim O'Rourke, whose own masterpiece Eureka the record most closely recalls, Pedals' grandiose designs become immediately apparent with the opening "Rose Selavy's Valise," a nine-minute pocket symphony and the most ambitious song Frank and John Navin brothers have created to date. This majestic but subtly-shaded epic builds with grace and precision, and its moody synth washes, shimmering guitars, and string and horn flourishes perfectly set the tone for the remainder of the disc. As before, the suave elegance and cool surfaces of Aluminum Group's compositions belie the poison-pen temperament of the brothers' lyrics; the withering putdowns and snarky come-ons from before are joined this time out by a surfeit of arch literary allusions, but the songs' scathing wit deflates even the loftiest pretensions — not only is Pedals the band's most bitter pill yet, it's also the easiest to swallow.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Named in honor of a line of furniture designed by Charles and Ray Eames, the Chicago-based chamber-pop outfit the Aluminum Group was led by brothers John and Frank Navin, longtime staples of the Wicker Park music scene who first surfaced in 1983 as members of the hardcore band Women in Love. Always harboring a secret affecton for the music of the Carpenters and Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, the Navins eventually formed the Aluminum Group, stubbornly pursuing their brand of lushly orchestrated pop until...
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Pedals, The Aluminum Group
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