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The Album Leaf: A Chorus Of Storytellers

B-

The Album Leaf

Album: A Chorus Of Storytellers
Label: Sub Pop

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The Album Leaf’s mutual love affair with Sigur Rós has been going on for almost a decade, but it took the new A Chorus Of Storytellers for Album Leaf mastermind James LaValle to do what’s been long overdue: Lay off the cut-and-paste collaborations and get a live band together to record his keyboard-based, mostly instrumental soundscapes. Too bad LaValle didn’t use the new full-band setup to better effect. While there’s at least a discernable pulse to Chorus, it's somehow less warm then his previous work with Sigur Rós. The Album Leaf has always trafficked in tranquil, wispy tones and nursery-rhyme melodies, but songs like “Blank Pages” and “Summer Fog” render Chorus minimal to the point of invisibility. The few songs sporting LaValle’s breathy vocals are a plus, and the percussion is heavier this time around, which is a welcome change from his previous predilection for glitch. Still, there’s a dynamic that’s hinted at but never hit, a symphonic grandeur that can’t quite will itself into being. Maybe LaValle should do yet another tour and make yet another record with Sigur Rós—if only to absorb a little more of that epic atmosphere he’s grasping to reach.