The real treat in letting O'Brother's sprawling debut full-length (11 songs over 63 minutes) unfold is just taking in every unexpected—and often harrowing—stylistic turn. The band uses a melange of brutal post-metal/rock, murky ’90s alt-rock, cinematic orchestral bits and mysterious, nuanced indie rock on Garden Window as a backdrop to an examination of Christian theology. And even when the album finishes, they haven't really found any answers: By closer “Last Breath,” frontman Tanner Merritt is still begging the question, “If 'God' is an acronym for 'giver of damnation,' why even bother with the concept of man?”
But that constant search is a large part of Garden Window's power and beauty. Whether O'Brother's thoughtful yet urgent search is delivered through the best song Queens Of The Stone Age never wrote (“Lo”), tortured, howling choruses only Tool or Isis could exact (“Sputnik,” “Machines Part I”), or even the kind of beautifully chilling, feminine atmosphere Blonde Redhead summon (“Bear”), it's an intermittently gripping pursuit of truth. Sure, Garden Window's individual songs could stand to find better cohesion, but the band's quest for answers packs a consistent thematic punch, and certain musical moments that surface as a result of their boiling frustration are just spellbinding.
Triple Crown http://www.triplecrownrecords.com