The Appleseed Cast
Two Conversations, 180G Special Edition Tri-Color Splatter Vinyl LP
To the more accustomed The Appleseed Cast listener it is a well known fact that the band has undergone a transformation through the span of their seven albums. Upon the release of the two volume LP records Low Level Owl I & II, fans found themselves confused at the sharp turn the band took away from their past Mineral-, Sunny Day Real Estate-ish-emowails of their debut album, to instead approaching the more post-rock oriented sound that they had hinted at in their subsequent album, Mare Vitalis. Little did it help the confusion when the band after that, again, took yet another sharp turn away from the instrumental, dreamy aesthetics of Low Level Owl and instead back in the direction they first came from, something which resulted in the more easy-listened and - to some fans - shallow Two Conversations.
Even in this apparent disorientation The Appleseed Cast never lost that mature and experimental vibe they toyed around with in Low Level Owl – it is still there (as we’ve indeed witnessed in the albums following this one). The post-rock was simply forced to take a few steps back into the blender, where End of the Ring Wars already had settled in comfortably, so that the band forcefully could hit BLEND and release, ventilate and cry out their frustrations of torn and withered relationships in the form of an album with a perfectly balanced mixture of emo and post-rock.
In terms of a break up concept album, Two Conversations does a miraculous job. The structure is perfect, featuring a story of a couple slipping away from each other, slowly – going from the root of the problems in the opener Hello Dearest Love (“welcome home/ her eyes know/ mistakes you've made/ the plans you laid”) to the struggle to keep the love alive in Fight Song(“We're finding fault/ When you kissed her/ Or you slept with him/ Or you didn't care”) and finally letting go of it all and moving on – with hope - played up beautifully in the wonderful two last tracks on the album (“Amazing how life can turn one day to the next you know./ I’ll figure out where I am and figure which way to go”). It is a journey that the listener easily can follow in both his heart as well as his ears, made stronger by the best lyrics the band has written to date, sung by Crisci’s ethereal, dreamy voice.
Technically, the album is far simpler than the Low Level Owls – a choice made perfectly, as any far too experimental touches would have made the album lose the heavy emotions it wanted to mediate. Two Conversations couldn’t have been composed any other way.
The drums are as “clinky-clonky”, intense and inventive as we had come to love in the previous albums, and Crisci does, as mentioned above, a very good performance as the narrator of this harsh and beautiful story. The guitar work is simple but experimental, not taking too much of the attention while still working through well-written harmonies toying with subtle arpeggios in a suitable non-intrusive background to the album’s concept.
While Two Conversations was an odd turn by the band that managed to divide their fans and listeners, it is an album that any once heartbroken individual can easily learn to love. It features a very complete track list with only a few weaker moments (Sinking comes to mind), and for the band it came to pave the path away from the emotional towards the later releases where the band once again found themselves flying with their Owls. -Sputnik