Electric President: Electric President
Morr Music

On their self-titled debut, Electric President duo Ben Cooper and Alex Kane perpetuate Morr's ongoing flirtation with song-oriented pop (specifically a vocal-based amalgam of pop, folk, and electronica) signaled by last year's The Go Find (Miami) and Styrofoam (Nothing's Lost) releases, and popularized en masse by Ben Gibbard's recent Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie success. And while Cooper does possess an intimate, slightly nasal vocal style that vaguely recalls Gibbard (a subtle snarl even surfacing through the twang of his vocal in “Hum”), Electric President actually contains a modest number of moping moments, the duo more interested in generating an elephantine roar like the kind heard in “We Were Never Build to Last.”

The album's ten songs generally adhere to classic song structure, with sparser folk choruses escalating to multi-tiered choruses boosted by dense layers of electric guitars, strings, and drums, the album merging an intimate bedroom feel with the wide-screen breadth of ornate arrangements. In “Some Crap About the Future,” the group backs a straightforward vocal line with stately electric guitars and classic shoegaze while the neo-glam “Ten Thousand Times” sounds like T. Rex meets Death Cab by way of Smashing Pumpkins and The Beach Boys. Many songs, in fact, feature the bluntnose, slightly gauzy yet scalpel-sharp electric guitar sound perfected by King Crimson's Robert Fripp. Other nice touches include the lush strings and sunny harmonies of the opener “Good Morning, Hypocrate,” the fleeting but lovely a cappella coda in “Insomnia,” and the hook of a muffled synth bloop that bobs to the acoustic surface throughout “Grand Machine No. 12.”

Cooper and Kane take on the weightier subject matter of resignation and loss in the eight-minute, funereal “Farewell” (“Out in the fields, the skies crack and peel / While off in the distance the buildings collide / And down in the grass is a sea of broken glass / And skeletons of lives that I used to label mine”) though a brightly tinkling glockenspiel and uplifting piano- and strings-enhanced passages do bring uplift to the song's second half. Bringing the album to a dramatic close, the two preternaturally gifted musicians make a reasonably convincing stab at concluding their promising debut with a bold statement.

January 2006