Just don't use the 'e' word

Epic is a word which is bound around rather a lot in music. Epic sounding, expansive, crushing; they are all those little clichéd adjectives that get thrown in music reviews to emphasise that something has the musical depth of all the oceans in the world piled on top of each other. In most cases epic thrown in because the writer can’t think of anything else to say to describe the massiveness of the music which they are listening to.

For some bands epic is a brilliant word: epic goes some way to encapsulate the sound of say, Sigur Ros, 65daysofstatic and Explosions in the sky. But in the wrong hands epic can build up your hopes: reading a review where the word is bounded around like Wimbledon finalists volleying the ball to each other, your expectations are built to a fantastic crescendo of excitement; you go out and buy said ‘epic’ masterpiece only for all your hope and expectations dashed when you listen. What you’ve just heard wasn’t some religious experience just another in a long line of heartbreaking musical lies by someone who probably just read the press release and didn’t bother to listen to the album. This is why the word ‘epic’ will not appear again in this review.

Working as a unit for three years, this is the first release from Kiddeminster’s Dead Letter Office. Having already established a name for themselves after touring with the likes of Howling Bells, 1990’s and Tiny Dancers; they have ensured that all their shows have theatrical production values with smoke, lasers and projections: it is just a shame that some of this effort for their live performances isn’t translated to their album.

Dead Letter Office are purveyors of expansive sounding music, but alas they do not fulfil the ‘e’ word criteria: during listening, your belly doesn’t rumble with the intensity of the music and you don’t feel the un-limitless possibility what you are listening to. Music which uses the ‘e’ word should make you feel like you are on an grand audio voyage and you never quite know where you’ll end up: sadly Complications is a little too predictable. Maybe it is because the vocals masquerade the music, which when you concentrate your ear upon it, it does have an intrinsically beautifully, shimmery quality which would stand up by itself as worthy of an album by itself.

Complications is a fair album but it isn’t in the same league as other bands of their ilk: it does not share in the complexity, the emotion and the accomplishment that other ‘e’ bands have. Perhaps the vocals are the reason why the music doesn’t shine out to its full capabilities and the band’s full potential and talent are essentially marred by the use of vocals.