Dolly Varden The Dumbest Magnets (Evil Teen)

The Dumbest Magnets (Evil Teen)

Dolly Varden

The Dumbest Magnets (Evil Teen)

The biggest flaw with The Dumbest Magnets, the third album from Chicagoland's Dolly Varden, may be that it's two tracks too long. While far from fatal, it's a tough defect to ignore when the two least satisfying songs, "Apple Doll" and "The Thing You Love Is Killing You," are also the first two. But really, quibbling about sequencing is nit-picking, right? The rest of the album is an elegant and soothing extension of the band's sumptuous 1998 effort, The Thrill of Gravity. Moreover, it moves them out of the Americana pigeonhole and into something distinctively proprietary. The arrangements are more sweeping, the lyrics more refined, and the husband-and-wife vocal harmonies of Stephen Dawson and Diane Christiansen more dramatic than before, yet the band never loses its taut earnestness. That's why Dolly Varden (a type of trout) can segue from the abandon of "I Come to You" to the fragile shuffle of "Balcony" without seeming abrupt or unfocused. The Dumbest Magnets is generally more subdued than sublime, but anything it might lack in originality, it more than makes up for with simple beauty.

***.5

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