QRO Magazine

+/-Xs on Your Eyes

By Ted Chase
7.4 Absolutely Kosher
2008 

+/- : Xs on Your Eyes

While +/- began as a side-project by Versus’ James Baluyat, the band has really grown into its own over the years as an established force in indietronica.  After touring off of 2006’s Let’s Build a Fire (QRO review), the New York three-piece disappeared for a while (with Baluyat even going back to Versus for a reunion tour), but now they’ve returned with Xs on Your Eyes.  On the new record, +/- steps out of their electronic comfort zone, and while perhaps not as fine as what the band’s done before, Xs certainly shows some growth.

One thing +/- did not leave behind was their high harmony, which pervades Xs just as it did Fire and previous records.  But instead of relying so much on indietronic beats and quiet-loud guitars, the group places less emphasis on rhythm, and varies up their instrumentation.  The most stark changes come near the end, with tracks like “Marina” and “You’ll Catch Your Death”, where the band manages to delve into alt-country/folk twang (even slide guitar…).  But many other numbers have newer elements, like the straighter indie-into-hightronic horns of “Subdued”, the grand and even anthemistic “The Queen of Nothing”, the high, pretty strum of “Halos” (which is also relatively boring until its fuzzy ending), and the bright and sunny title track, which provides a nice change on an otherwise downbeat record.

There are still some pieces that are more reminiscent of older +/-, such as opener “Tired Eyes”, which breaks into pressing, pleading guitars.  Meanwhile, the pressing march drumbeat of “The Hours You Keep” doesn’t quite fit with the track’s high melody, but is a nice try.  But perhaps best is when the band combines these two strains, like with the wistful “Unsung” or “Flight Data Recorder”: the former also has a catch & hook that worms its way into your heart, while the latter, Xs’s finisher, just builds and builds.

Having been around since 2001, it was about time that +/- tried something new.  And the step away from electronics is a particularly apt, given how electronics feels about the band – ‘+/-’ used to be first in alphabetical order on iTunes, before subsequent updates to the Apple program knocked them to last, and then to unreadable (a fate that also befell !!! – QRO live review).  While their new direction could still use some tweaking, and one can miss their previous sound, +/- did need some ambition.

MP3 Stream: “Unsung

{audio}/mp3/files/Plus Minus – Unsung.mp3{/audio}

 

About the author

Ted Chase

Related Articles

Latest Concert Reviews
  • Billy Joel

    More Click here for photos from this show in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery SCENES FROM A BILLY JOEL CONCERT Billy Joel played Madison

    Read more ...
  • UB40

    More Click here for photos from this show in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery My previous encounters with UB40 having been at arenas where,

    Read more ...
Latest Interviews
Ash Moss of Dark Bells

After hearing Dark Bells headline at the Manchester Kraak Gallery, QRO caught up with bass player, Ash Moss, to find out a bit more about the London-based psych-gaze band.  Chatting about musical

Read more ...
  • Those Darlins

    Before playing the Bunk Bar in Portland, OR, Jessi & Nikki Darlin of Those Darlins talked to QRO.  In the conversation, these Darlins talked about their new album, Blur The Line, gender roles

    Read more ...
  • Bear Hands – Q&A

    At the release party/start of tour for their new Distraction (QRO review), Val Lopez and TJ Orscher of Bear Hands sat down with QRO.  In the conversation, the bassist & drummer talked about

    Read more ...
Latest Tracks
  • Woolfy – “City Lights”

    Woolfy, the project led by LA's Simon James, is set to release its debut EP, City Lights, and the title track is a subtropical bonfire jam with an uncommonly airy easiness. If anything else Woolfy

    Read more ...
Popular Articles
Album of the Week
Spotlight On:
Random Articles