Andrew Cohen & Light Coma – Unreality

3 out of 5

Label: Comedy Minus One

Produced by: Matthew Barnhart, Steve Albini

About half an album of amazing jams and half a bit wandering, Andrew Cohen & Light Coma’s Unreality is still a good expansion to our post-Silkworm world, joining Cohen and Tim Midyett’s Bottomless Pit, and Tim’s Mint Mile project. Cohen leans mostly more toward the rocking end of the spectrum, often bringing to mind a Firewater-era looseness, helped in no small part by the Light Coma team, who give the music a jangling crunch that’s more Neil Young than Silkworm’s alterna-rock / Pavement-y style of their classic discs.

It’s hard not the compare and contrast, of course; Mint Mile has, perhaps, pushed furthest away from the original formula, and Cohen seems to be allowing himself some lyrical / musical indulgences here for the same reasons, but the result isn’t always that sharp. While I think the backing of a seasoned team helps to keep all the compositions fairly focused, things drift rather oddly between polished rock (openers Repack and Sugar Puff are highlights in this regard) and somewhat open-ended, more minimalistic fare – The Usual and City and River both never quite find their flow, and seem overlong, even though they’re less than four minutes each; that is, I’m not sure Unreality ever hangs together as an album. This is further suggested by the lyrics, which are a haze of internal narrative, coming to half-points but avoiding being pointed, giving the set a rather personal feel.

Which isn’t a bad thing at all, just coming across as a warm-up set for something more polished. The handful of tracks that achieve this polish would be an amazing EP, if admittedly somewhat Silkworm derivative; combined with the ideas found in the lesser tracks, there’s a definite identity here, but it feels like it would take another album to figure that out.