Madagascar - Goodbye East, Goodbye West
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Goodbye East, Goodbye West

Although groups like Hawk And A Hacksaw and Beirut have drawn praise for their Eastern European inspired sounds, Madagascar is another (albeit probably slightly lesser-known) group that should be included in the above list. Their Forced March release found them creating everything from waltzes to dour dirges, utilizing everything string instruments, accordion, unique percussion, and a singing saw along the way.

Goodbye East, Goodbye West is the follow-up from the group, and despite a few very minor changes, it's largely a continuation of their sound, with six songs running just over a half hour in length. The first couple tracks ("When Last We Heard Of Gentlemen" and "The River In Its Sunday Garb" both use theaforementioned instruments, along with glockenspiel and the occasional wordless vocal to create a couple tracks that both sound nice, but don't offer up a whole lot in terms of something new. On the centerpiece of the album, the nearly ten minute "Imperium In Imperio" the group moves from a droning intro to a slightly more boisterous middle, and it's here that the group finally sounds like they're starting to shake off the cobwebs a bit.

The final two tracks on the release are easily among the best, and showcase their ability to write with slightly different instrumentation as "The Innocence Of Facts" takes on a slightly more spaghetti-western feel with acoustic guitar, plucked strings, and glockenspiel while the album-titled closer "Goodbye East, Goodbye West" progresses with a more song-like structure, blending vocals and their usual batch of instrumentation into something that sounds like Animal Collective gone mellow and front-porch acoustic style. While none of the songs on the album are boring, it really does feel like the group is only finally hitting onto something new during the last half of the release, and when they do that it's a very, very good thing.

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2007-08-09 21:07:14