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Silent Film, A - The City That Sleeps Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 7.5
Production 8.25
Creativity 7
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 80%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.25
Lyrics 8.5
Production 8.5
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Average: 84%

Silent Film, A - The City That Sleeps

Reviewed by: Jeremy Aaron (04/22/10)
A Silent Film - The City That Sleeps
Record Label: Bieler Brothers
Release Date: April 13, 2010

On paper, an album like A Silent Film's The City That Sleeps shouldn't work. First off, they're a "piano rock" band, as if we really need another one of those. When trying to dream up something to compare it to, the first thing that comes to mind is Snow Patrol's snoozefest A Hundred Million Suns. Oh, yeah, and they have songs like their single "You Will Leave a Mark", whose uplifting "you can be anything you aspire to be" message would typically send the needle on the ol' Schmaltz-o-Meter spinning over to "American Idol Single." And yet, there's something authentic about City that makes it a surefire winner in a genre that churns out records that are just flat-out easy to ignore.

The album, which dropped back in 2008 in the band's native UK, is finally getting a stateside release, and it wouldn't be surprising if some of its pop-friendly tunes find their way onto the airwaves. While that might sound like an insult, or at least a backhanded compliment, it's not intended as such. Radio-readiness in this context simply means that A Silent Film have a Keane-like (we're talking pre-Perfect Symmetry) knack for melody and nuance that allows their music to be readily accessible without venturing into the realm of played-to-death, flaccid balladry.

What's most striking about The City That Sleeps is the band's ability to compose these largely populist tunes with strong pop frameworks while infixing them with elements that feel like nods to disparate styles. The sophistipop-tinged opener "Driven by a Beating Heart" sounds like preparation for a record that delves into the lighter side of the '80s, but its follow-up "Sleeping Pills" diverges sharply with rhythmic vibraphone and a skittering bass-line reminiscent of Aloha (yes, I probably hear that because I'm still spinning Home Acres, but it's undeniably similar musically to "Microviolence"). As varied as these songs are from the get-go, A Silent Film's melodic focus is consistent and keeps it all feeling unified and not at all patched together.

What's also remarkable is how the record never really rushes forward at anything faster than a medium pace, yet it remains mostly engaging, though not entirely-- not even the broad string sweeps can save the languorous "One Wrong Door". Otherwise we're treated to billowing ballads like "Thirteen Times the Strength", an anthemic piano-led composition that's less Coldplay and more Copeland or Raining and OK. "Julie June", one of the album's more subdued cuts, and "Firefly at My Window", its most bombastic anthem, propped up by huge drums, offer vocalist Robert Stevenson the opportunity to air out his impressive falsetto. Undoubtedly, A Silent Film's path is well-tread, and that would be a major complaint if they were some amateurish Fray knockoff. However, they are so much more than that; on The City That Sleeps, they demonstrate the songwriting chops to deserve mention among adult pop's heavyweights.

Track Listing1. Driven by a Beating Heart (4:18)
2. Sleeping Pills (3:10)
3. You Will Leave a Mark (3:40)
4. Thirteen Times the Strength (3:59)
5. Julie June (4:15)
6. One Wrong Door (3:46)
7. Firefly at My Window (4:22)
8. Lamplight (3:54)
9. Feather White (3:34)
10. Aurora (4:16)


Check out A Silent Film on Myspace and last.fm.
Preview/Buy the album at Amazon MP3.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11.
12:29 PM on 04/22/10
#2
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Glad you dig this. My sliding scale is a bit more generous, so I would have pushed it up a few points higher, but I'm just glad you're embracing a genre you want to hate. Keane still loves you! Cheers.
12:47 PM on 04/22/10
#3
Jeremy Aaron
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Glad you dig this. My sliding scale is a bit more generous, so I would have pushed it up a few points higher, but I'm just glad you're embracing a genre you want to hate. Keane still loves you! Cheers.
Haha. I don't hate the genre so much as there are just so many boring acts practicing it. And Keane's "Crystal Ball" is one of my all-time favorite songs, with the rest of Under the Iron Sea also pretty solid. The follow-up didn't quite cut it for me, though I'm interested to hear the new EP. I really liked this release though, and thought it was worth doing a write-up for.
12:54 PM on 04/22/10
#4
Gregory Robson
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Haha. I don't hate the genre so much as there are just so many boring acts practicing it. And Keane's "Crystal Ball" is one of my all-time favorite songs, with the rest of Under the Iron Sea also pretty solid. The follow-up didn't quite cut it for me, though I'm interested to hear the new EP. I really liked this release though, and thought it was worth doing a write-up for.
I know you don't hate the genre, I was being cheeky. And the Keane comment was written because i know how much you love "Crystal Ball," and that album. I really do dig this band A Silent Film though, so I'm glad you wrote them up.
01:38 PM on 04/22/10
#5
thesollopsist
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Riyl?
02:54 PM on 04/22/10
#6
GeeBee
Tertium Non Datur
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This album is awesome. RIYL Psychedelic Furs, Echo and the Bunnymen.
Dude's voice sounds like Peter Murphy.

I seriously would give this at least 90. Really great album.
03:29 PM on 04/22/10
#7
etwardjetward
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good job
03:39 PM on 04/22/10
#8
thesollopsist
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Sounds like I'm gonna have to check this out.
06:44 PM on 09/25/10
#9
teyaxilu
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People's faces when i say i like 'war on christmas' = hilarious.
http://www.tiffanystores.org/
06:45 PM on 09/25/10
teyaxilu
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09:23 PM on 04/16/12
fgems
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the Keane comment was written because i know how much you love "Crystal Ball," and that album

---
silver engagement rings
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