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Album Review

Five years since their last LP, this Nebraska trio ekes out their sixth LP, and one of their very best at that. The heavily heart-rending, highly involved, aggressive atmospheric pop that Jeffrey Runnings and mates have perfected for 15 years is in evidence again, as if they spent those full five years tweaking and finishing — when they, in fact, were stuck sitting on this recording while looking for a sympathetic label. And it's just plain dazzling. Coalesced bursts out with two of the group's patented, spacious, glittering chargers in "Medication" and "So Long" — the melancholic chords are totally undone by the assertive punch of Paul Engelhard's rapid-fill drumming, Steven "Mave" Hinrichs' moody gazebo of bob-n-weave guitar runs, and Runnings' own rapid basslines. In particular, "Medication" is reminiscent of the type of guitar-fest with broken dance rhythm that later Lush did so well. And the lyrics — what early Smiths-like bold, romantic feeling exists amidst this worried music: "I make this promise here and now/As long as oxygen allows/I want to be with you and find/A kind of love that transcends time/An everlasting peace of mind." In general, the group has allowed itself more room to repeat whole coda sections for hypnotic effect, until they start to build on themselves in sheer weight. It's a trait that risked boredom for the realized return of these long, lugubrious, scintillating passages that take you to whole other netherworlds of pathos. If music at its best can remove you entirely from your living room and put you in some other place — while the words hit home in your own life — this is what you seek. There's no reason why this incredible LP — full of cascading guitar sounds, naked tenderness and emotional meltdowns, and passage after passage of shimmering beauty — can't produce the shiver effect in a greater multitude. May they never break up; there's just nothing like them.


Formed: 1984 in Lincoln, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Nebraska's lone dream pop entry, For Against initially consisted of bassist and vocalist Jeffrey Runnings, guitarist Harry Dingman, and drummer Greg Hill. Dingman and Hill left after 1988's December to form the Millions, and they were eventually replaced by Steven "Mave" Hinrichs and Paul Engelhard after another lineup failed to work out. (Dingman returned in the 2000s.) Since its inception, Runnings' band consistently produced a drifting yet distinctly rhythmic sound, soldiering through the myriad...
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Coalesced, For Against
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