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I put this CD on the stereo gingerly, keeping my fingers crossed that Vietnam were not attempting the literal with their album title and dropping an Americanised version of D:Ream’s signature ‘90s pop sound. It’s quickly clear from the droney opening and enormous personnel list that aspirational Major-era pop anthems aren’t what’s going to happen today, with Michael Gerner’s combo instead knocking out a series of grimy Americana epics with a bit of Hiss Golden Messenger fragility, Springsteen earnestness, and expansive arrangements like you might expect from Wilco, Lambchop or Giant Sand at their most theatrical.
It’s atmospheric stuff, with lots of spooky drones and ambience linking the tracks. When things get a bit rockier it kind of brings to mind a countrified Three Mile Pilot, Gerner’s cracked moan reminding me more than a little of Pall Jenkins. The slickness and size of the band reminds me of Calexico in places, with everyone knowing their place and exercising restraint to keep it from smearing into an homogenous sweeping country rock mush. Sometimes it can plod a little (all the songs are pretty lengthy and mid-paced is as fast as it gets) and it’s not exactly breaking new ground but this is clearly a lovingly constructed album with lots of capable musicians playing artful and heartfelt songs, and it’s pretty long too!
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