Escapists present a nice fun album in the autumn stone. A bit of chamber pop with just a twinge of ska - think The Aluminum Group sans electronics plus sax and you’re close to the Escapists sound. Dreamy vocals, jangley guitars, good horns, nice harmonies and a great summer feel. I really dig the lead vocalist and the groovy bass and drums. (And yes, groovy is the just right adjective here.) There is a nice consistency in the sound with a few surprises thrown in.
Time is a River is a kind of ska-inspired romp that isn’t quite ska. Love the vocals and subtle harmony. For some reason the sax sounds a bit wonky to me (see below), but I still dig the song and things only get better from here.
Endless War goes yet more ska starting something from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones songbook. The vocals belie the intro in a kind of half-time understated way. Then some nice guitar and bass work. Again with the sax, but seems to work a bit better here. I hit replay on this song a couple of times.
End of Faith wanders off in a different direction with a more rock tinged sound and a traditional alt-rock vibe. Then comes In with the Out Crowd and I really start to pay attention. Nice uptempo dream-pop sound that is my favorite track on the album. Everything comes together for Escapists here in just the right way.
Tempo goes down for Sweet Libertine, but still in the dream-pop sound. Here’s where my reference to The Aluminum Group comes from. Back uptempo with Spirit Shadow with much more edge on the guitar and drums. The style shift works really nicely for me, although Spirit Shadow doesn’t stand out like In with the Out Crowd that I keep going back to.
Ooh La La takes things all the way back to the dream-pop sound of earlier tracks. Nice kind of 50’s vibe and the sax works well for me here. The guitar sound is perfect and compliments the vocals. Following nicely is Creatures that takes things down another notch and brings the vocals forward. Segues nicely into Dark Age that closes the album on an uptempo note. One of my favorite moments on the album at just the right time.
I love the transitions from style to style that Escapists use. Makes for a great album listen rather than a song-by-song experience. Only real critiques are intonation and recording of the winds, particularly the sax. Please tune the sax! A good recordist could help clean this up quickly. That said, I love a band with such great potential and I’d love to see these guys live.