Aspen, Are You That Retail Snob?

Released: June 1999 (NZ)

Bevan Smith's self-titled debut was a warm, eclectic mix of songs. It is a very good album, but it has all the trappings of an artist's first effort. That is, the songs sound as if they were recorded over the course of many months or years, and the do not always mesh quite as well as a polished album that was crafted all at once (or put together as a whole). Are You That Retail Snob? is in the latter category. The green, medium-to-cold soundscape that covers every song is awash with fascinating synth strings, ambient and building-block atmospherics, and carefully-positioned CGD beats and FXs. Songs like"Two Months Ago," "Anniversary," and "Forgotten Last Moments" all contain a sprinkling of CGD and FX sound, which hover in the corners of a warm, round synth melody. The images evoked in these songs are contrasts: rolling, green hills dotted with power lines; soft, warm sex in the middle of a bustling city park. It's organic, ambient music, but it isn't just atmosphere: there's an edge, a movement from one sound to the next, from one idea to the next. This edge comes vibrantly alive in "This Is Why Only Teenagers Can Really Love Music," which has a wonderful CGD rhythm and a great melody line that changes and mutates in all different directions for well over 10 minutes. This is definitely an album that will be around for a very long time.

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