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Wednesday, December 9, 1998

Edgy Space Rock

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Nearing the end of a decade, it sounds as though the best elements of experimental guitar-based indie bands -- i.e. Sonic Youth, Flaming Lips, Spacemen 3, Jesus & Mary Chain -- and early '90s grooving Britpop have ground together to bring us The Things We Make, the attitude-driven debut by Six by Seven. Among the album's 10 songs, four are six-minute mini-epics, so one might be tempted to toss the oft-used and abused "prog-rock" moniker around. But it'd be a misnomer in the case of Six by Seven, which strives to write pop-based -- read: accessible -- songs that are a torrent of languid, unpolished guitar noise, Hammond organ and tenor saxophone. There are lovely lulls, the quiet before yet another storm of Verve-inspired, guitar-driven avalanches.

The intro to "A Beautiful Shape" is simplicity itself and would do well on a Hal Hartley soundtrack. "Candlelight," which was remixed by none other than members of the Flaming Lips, grooves down in classic Britpop ca. 1989 style -- that heady time when the above-mentioned sort of guitar music really entered the club circuit spotlight. "For You" is a breezy, upbeat, highway-driving, three-and-a-half-minute pop song. The most dramatic track is the moody and dark "Spy Song," on which frontman Chris Olley's gruff, nicotine-dredged vocals are as smooth as a sexy, smoking tenor saxophone. Lyrically, Six by Seven covers the spectrum from the honest to the absurd, which leaves the listener quizzically raising an eyebrow and pondering the meaning behind lyrics like those in "Oh! Dear" -- an ode to love or ... a very male ego.

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