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First Album

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Album Review

The U.K.'s Six by Seven made a sadly underappreciated name for itself with a series of strong albums at the turn of millennium, a sequence that Twelve continues. Twelve itself doesn't consist of the whole band, instead being a side project led by Six by Seven lead singer and guitarist Chris Olley with the help of fellow bandmember Chris Davis on drums, and a new collaborator, Tee Dymond, on vocals and keyboards. The self-descriptive First Album, following an irregular series of singles, wisely avoids cloning Six by Seven's arty/aggro balance in favor of a wide variety of approaches, from majestic instrumental drone ("Intro") to minimal techno/percussion jams ("Travelin' Light") to brief IDM experiments ("One Seventeen," which is indeed one minute and 17 seconds long). "Police Cars" may be — so far — one of the few garage/techno songs where the garage is more punk than Paradise, though that's mostly in the burbling roughness of the synth bass and Olley's brisk, steady drumming, both of which also come to the fore in the equally propulsive drive of "Part III." When it comes to straight-up rock numbers as such, First Album showcases a calmer side to Davis and Olley's work, exchanging rampages for reflection. "Talkin' About" acts as the album's centerpiece, a nearly 12-minute-long number that suggests Low's hushed, minimal pace shot through with a hint of the Swans' late-period orchestrated drama. "Never Let You Go" similarly maintains the hints of country influence (via, say, the Cowboy Junkies) while "Now" concludes the album on a slightly more upbeat touch, a gentle folk-rock strum-along that's quite classic rock without feeling dull, always a welcome result.

First Album, Twelve
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