Despite its title, this album is not quite post-rock. Maybe "post rock" in that it’s worth mailing to your friends, this melody-driven Britpop blast is much more cerebral. As you’ve probably heard by now, the Bon Savants’ lead singer and producer, Thom Moran, is a real, freaking rocking scientist, and their brand of dark, clinched rock is smarter than most. Laden with scattered guitar riffs, highly-effected vocals, and intricate drum rhythms, Post Rock Defends The Nation hashes out a wide variety of potency, from heavy Frankenstein jams to floating headphone ballads. With a metallic comfort like that of a pet robot, the Bon Savants’ debut album is primitively magnetic, questionably inhuman, and obviously progressive.
After building up to this point for a few years, this Boston-based quartet is using 2006 as its springboard. Growing local recognition is setting a furious pace for national attention, and Post Rock Defends The Nation kicks the doors wide open. Mixed by Bill Racine and otherwise homemade, this debut as solid as any this year, led by Moran’s seemingly calm vocals amidst a storm of frighteningly catchy noise-pop. Immediately in the opening track, "What We Need", Moran sets the tone of laid back confidence while stabbing march rolls by behind him. "Between the Moon and the Ocean" takes the pop style even further, but the song remains strangely disconnected ("I killed my love in the ocean") & ("You kiss like a Russian"). There always seems to be a fine line between pop and "not", and these types of unrelatable lines make this album extremely memorable and comfortably "not".
Moran’s vocals are the obvious star of the show, but couldn’t be without a stark, disenchanted background sound. In "Final Grade", Moran lulls over rolling future-funhouse waltz and waves of whistling. In "Why This Could Never Work Between Us", however, Moran smoothly works falsetto into the mix with dense guitar, fetching keyboard, and turbulent beat. On the title track, vocals alternate and harmonize left and right, while a highly-charged guitar provides the slope on which the rest of the song slides. The depth and melody of Moran’s vocals are unique even in this era of trendy baritones and push this album from good to great.
In a relatively light year of music both in quality and mood, the Bon Savants’ debut Post Rock Defends The Nation helps on both fronts, with brooding vocals, wide-stretching effects, and a mechanical drive that just about every post-anything band could admire. Whatever type of rock you want to call it, it certainly defends the progress made up to this point by stretching it even further. The unique mix of skill, charm, and darkness make it truly shine.