Hype Music, 2011
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/24/2011
Jeff Garber has been churning out new material consistently since his last album Bliss & Death came out. However, there has been no method to the release of new material, which has been totally chaotic. Garber released music almost on a whim in the form of random singles and EPs that would show up abruptly as digital downloads on Amazon and iTunes.
National Skyline is Garber’s latest full-length album since Bliss & Death. Although this is not an EP, it is a little over 24 minutes long, and just a few minutes longer than the National Skyline EP that was released in 2000. National Skyline technically is not a full-fledged record either. The origin of this collection of music lies in MTV featuring past National Skyline songs on some of its shows. Garber signed with MTV’s Hype Music in 2010 and recorded music specifically as cues for the MTV library; hence the album’s short length.
True to the type of music that is featured on shows – especially those on MTV – this album features songs that are mildly uplifting and somewhat reassuring. The music is simple, catchy, and sometimes sappy, but it’s also all around boring, at least by National Skyline standards. Remember, these are meant to be terse music pieces catered specifically to vapid TV shows. Garber certainly hasn’t sold out. Apart from his fraternization with MTV and thereby prostituting his band’s image (in the eyes of the ten people who do listen to his music), the soul of National Skyline remains somewhat alive and hearty on this album.
Following the footsteps of Bliss & Death and pretty much everything that Garber has released ever since, National Skyline pursues a predominantly guitar-based breezy sound, with wafting guitar notes, which sound wholesomely soothing and pretty. Since the length of the songs is a big factor, the tracks follow the verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula, without any musical interludes. The music isn’t all that bad and surprisingly doesn’t sound too much like cues for TV shows. But the songs aren’t memorable either. Usually National Skyline albums have songs of varying lengths with instrumentals tucked in-between. The songs always had room for interesting diversions, which resulted in some of the most brilliant indie music ever. But the oversimplified nature of this album is its scourge.
Restricted by the album’s short format and the audience the music is made for, National Skyline doesn’t live upto the band’s previous work, even despite some really good songs.