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Posted on September 2nd, 2014 (4:35 pm) by Sidney Dritz

You don’t have to read between the lines at Onward Chariots’ website to figure out how they feel about, as they put it, “people who compare things to things,” but relating music to other music is a staple here at IYS, and the comparisons they list as those usually made about their sound are pretty spot-on. We would not have been surprised to find any of the songs from the EP on a Belle and Sebastian album, and the combination of whimsy with soaring harmonies Onward Chariots do so well is clearly where the Teenage Fanclub comparison they list comes from, for instance.

This isn’t to say that Onward Chariots don’t put their own spin on those elements of their music. In particular, the main ingredient in Onward Chariots’ sound that the list is missing can be traced back to the band's founder Ben Morss’ resume, which shows the composition of two children’s musicals as previous artistic credits.

Unlike their theatrical predecessors, the songs on Take Me To Somewhere aren’t limited by the necessity of tying themselves down to narrative, instead often moving from one evocative image to a disconnected, but emotionally charged, image without stopping to let the listener catch their breath. An example of this is in “The Sound,” which flits through verses like, “And when you feel it/ You catch the wave, you break right open/ Out of the air and into the sky/ And now you’re going home/ The sun will strike the horizon/ And every shadow’s gonna drown/ Where everything flows with the sound,” in the singer’s light tones as harmonies and horns weave their way through the background.

The only real snag in “The Sound” comes in an interlude between verses where the singer’s voice drops to a softer tone, so that the background harmonies threaten to bury it, and murmurs, “Your suicide is gonna end,” over and over. Musically, it’s as compelling as the rest of the track, but there’s something about suicide as a metaphor that feels both a little lazy and a little tasteless from a lyrical point of view, which mars the moment a bit.

The greatest charm of the Take Me To Somewhere lies in the moments that combine the wide-reaching, theatrical style of the music with ordinary, relatable bordering-on-banal sentiments behind the lyrics, from “We need a vacation,” in the aptly-named “Vacation,” to “I guess I really need a friend,” from the EP’s final track, “Take Me To Somewhere.”

“Doesn’t Even Matter,” the EP’s opening track, sets the tone admirably from a musical point of view, though vocally, there are moments where the vocals can’t quite carry off the sweeping notes bridging between one verse and the next that they’re trying for. The track is enthusiastic enough to carry it past those moments without too much fuss. The overall impression the EP leaves, from “Doesn’t Even Matter” to “Take Me To Somewhere,” is one of a cohesive, filled out sound, complete with enough layers of harmonies and various instruments that any place where a single element of a song fails to feel fully satisfying, the next picks up the slack.

Track List:

  1. It Doesn't Even Matter
  2. Vacation
  3. We'll Find A Way
  4. The Sound
  5. Take Me to Somewhere
Onward Chariots: Take Me To Somewhere
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

67 / 100
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