Ticonderoga – Ticonderoga

3 out of 5

Label: 54º40′ Or Fight!

Produced by: ?

Ticonderoga’s self-titled debut is an album that always seems like it’s on the verge of something… but the bandmembers, not quite sure of what that something is, dance around it instead. It’s in the drawled vocal style that verges on intensity; lyrics that flirt with poignance; production that’s both rich and immersive and then needlessly dense; compositions that build and then wander away before they’re done. 

The sounds here – thanks in part to the vocal style, but also the casual mingle of jangle and pop – are very mid-era Pavement, given some cinematic Radiohead jazz to serious things up bit, with the production doing wonders by layering crisp and intense percussion to waves of stinging or warm guitar and bass. But, as hinted, for as often as this stuff congeals into incredibly catchy or haunting melodies, there are often moments where the added effects or linearity-dodging nuance don’t seem to serve the song. Like, it’s neat, but… why? 

That’s my overall response here: any given track impresses in some way: some stomach-dropping riff; a meaningful run of lyrics; a shocking explosion of sound; but then while you’re waiting for that to evolve, the song wiggles slightly instead, like, moving uncomfortably ’cause you’re looking at it, and maybe it still sounds cool but it’s lost that moment of magic, undermining the memory of what got you invested in the first place… 

This patchwork approach was applied with more purpose on followup The Heilig-Levine LP; here, all the same pieces are in play, but they definitely don’t come close to hinting at a cohesive enough picture, even if it’s not a bother to keep studying those individual pieces.