lowsunday, elegisum (Projekt Records): I don't know when I've heard an album run out of gas more conspicuously, but for its first six songs, lowsunday's elegisum is glorious. Steve Albini once remarked that the problem with a lot of bands is that they're slavishly imitating bands everybody's already heard instead of copying interesting but obscure bands whose moves deserve to be copped. lowsunday, perversely but without even a flicker of self-referential humor, owe their most significant debt to Modern English, whose fame unfairly rests on their somewhat uncharacteristic hit single "I Melt With You." In the '80s, odd little bands like Modern English thought they could change the world, and (like New Order, another clear point of reference here) sometimes even tried to. It's 2001 now, though, and lowsunday have no illusions about their prospects for aboveground success, so the songs on elegisum average about five minutes in length and make no concessions to post-Talk Talk (or post-Talk Talk Talk) production techniques. Their guitars conjure visions of ripples spreading from a pebble's point of impact at the center of a pond, while their vocalist wholeheartedly rejects the self-defeating irony that made the '90s such a crashing bore and reaches for portentously huge, grandly echoing notes as ride-cymbals crash over and over against the one and three beats of each measure in the mix's high end. "Darkwave" is the unfortunate term applied to the sort of ongoing investigation of a few particular subcultural core values that's been undertaken by lowsunday's label, Projekt. Projekt deserves a closer look by anybody who's interested in questions of genre or style, and lowsunday are at least worthy of a listen or two. For six songs, they're practically evangelists of a musical approach that replaces practicality with passion and feigned abandon with closely considered indulgence. The first two minutes of the sixth song, right before the album veers off into self-indulgence, are as transcendent as anything you're likely to hear between now and the next Jean-Luc Guillonet album. Since sales figures indicate that there aren't many of you holding your breath for Guillonet's next move, you'd do well to look into this one. — John Darnielle

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