Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Feb. 11, 2005
Limbic System (Detach)
You can hear every red cent of the missing budget on the Onlys' third album, Limbic System. Cut corners on every slightly off-key melody emanating from Rachel Romo's keyboards, pennies pinched off Jason Lavalle's centerpiece beat, which should have been sanded down further in the mix. Joel Chenoweth's guitars and lap steel guitar beg extra layers of lacquering, while brother Jason Chenoweth's sad vocals need swaddling. When the punch-in comes on "Tulsa Part II," there's no million-dollar wallop. Fortunately, the Austin quartet isn't Coldplay. Neither do they enjoy 4AD production values, though Damon & Naomi does comes to mind, as does Low, especially on the warm swirl of both parts of "Tulsa," or the building, grounded "Central." Romo's harmonies are all the grounding Jason Chenoweth needs in his wounded limp to the brain's emotional cortex. Together they mirror the simple manner in which harp and bassline curl around each other on "Shine." These are simple melodies feeling complex emotions, and fuzz is everything to Limbic System. The electro embellishment on Ramos' "Frequencies in the Dial" plays like $1.98, but it's paid in cash. The elegant wavelength of Joel Chenoweth's guitar also picks up the tab on the longing "Take the Apartment" and "Slide Song," giving change even on the upbeat pulse of "Sinking Stones" and rocking flare-up of instrumental "Swan." Who needs love when there's cigarettes, and if you've got enough for them, who needs cash for anything else?