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The Meadowlands

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Album Review

The Wrens' third album, The Meadowlands, is a sprawling, shifting affair, perhaps reflecting the fact that it took four years to create. It's easy to take the sweet, slightly alt-country "13 Months in 6 Minutes" at face value — the song's epic feel suggests the passing of a considerable chunk of time, and at the Wrens' pace, it's possible that it did take over a year to craft. Rather fittingly, the album itself is also long, and the way that its songs jump and shift in tone and mood suggests a series of journal entries strung together, connected loosely by an overall brokenhearted feeling. A pair of bitterly pretty songs open The Meadowlands after the interlude "The House That Guilt Built" sets the tone with its early summer evening atmosphere: on "Happy," the Wrens sing "Are you happy?/You got what you want/I'm over it now," revealing their true feelings before shimmering guitars carry the song off on another tangent; "She Sends Kisses" goes from whispery, late-night anguish to high drama. Like Secaucus, most of the album trades in a classic indie rock sound — just this side of accessible, but not overly experimental either. "This Boy Is Exhausted" and the new wavey "Faster Gun" are deceptively simple, bright, and shiny but with underlying complexities that provide a sharp contrast to the album's gentler moments, such as the shambling beauty of "Thirteen Grand" and the sweetly twangy "Ex-Girl Collection." The Meadowlands saves some of its most rock moments for the end of the album: "Per Second Second," an angular, Pixies-esque bit of punk, and the anthemic "Everyone Chooses Sides" send the album out in a blaze of glory that initially seems a little at odds with the melancholy tone of the rest of the album but, after a few listens, reveals itself as strangely appropriate. It's possible that The Meadowlands might be a "better" album if it were more focused and logical, but there's something to be said for its immersive, stream-of-consciousness approach. It's also tempting to say that hopefully it won't take the Wrens as long to make their next album as it did to make The Meadowlands, but when the results are this good, the time it took to make the album is more than justified.

Customer Reviews

This year's desert island disc

I haven't heard a stronger album in years; each tracks stands on its own, yet, as a whole, the record never flags for a moment. The Wrens write music that's both intelligent and melodic, and this album stands as an exception to the rule that music dear to the Pitchfork crowd has to be esoteric and alienating. Huge, cathartic, and beautifully relentless.

Not just kosher, Glatt!

Having seen these patriots rock this album live before experiencing their unique brand of pure love in the form of recorded sound, I was completely unprepared for the gentle beauty they synthesize at will upon every single track. This just goes to show how giants see the world differently from we mere mortals. Buy Meadowlands or be bereft of the lifeblood of modern music.

1 of the most Fantastic Albums

This album is one of those that is beyond comparassion. It will grab you and not let go. You will listen to this a ton. Then you will think "I dont want to get sick of it so i should quit listening." But you wont. Then you will try and find other stuff they have put out. Good luck. I just dropped 60 bucks on their second album. All of their stuff is out of print beside this album. The album I am talking about was put out in 1996. The was the last thing they put out before Meadowlands. They make sure that what they are going to put out there is worth listening to. These music maniacs are wonderful. You will love ever song. But dont take my word for it.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

One of the best bands with the worst luck, New Jersey's the Wrens were establishing themselves as one of the catchiest and most thoughtful indie rock groups of the '90s when label problems prevented them from releasing another album for seven years. The group — guitarist/vocalist Charles Bissell, guitarist Greg Whelan, bassist/vocalist Kevin Whelan, and drummer Jerry MacDonnell — formed in the late '80s and went through several names before settling on Low. Unaware of the slowcore band...
Full Bio
The Meadowlands, Wrens
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