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The Gifted Children - My Museum Pieces

The Gifted Children

My Museum Pieces

(Tinhorn Planet)

It would be a travesty to ring out 2009 without mentioning the year’s installment from Western New York indie rock workhorse The Gifted Children. Thirteen years and over 1,300 songs into their career, to say that the band is prolific would be an understatement. They could be considered proud members of Guided by Voices leader Robert Pollard’s “write-10-songs-before-breakfast” club, but they are hardly another example of quantity over quality: You would be hardpressed to find a single song in their catalog to be considered a “throwaway.”

While the GBV similarities have always been there, the Gifted Children have consistently upped their own ante by testing styles ranging from folk, garage, psych, pop, and shoegaze; they’ve even flirted with electronic influences in recent years. My Museum Pieces gives a sense that old is finally married with new—gritty enough for the scruffy rocker, yet intelligent enough for the nerds with a pocket protector. What makes their latest entry so inviting is the fact that any sort of pretense is thrown to the curb. Jeff Suszcynski and company have never been afraid to try anything, and that proves true this time around as well.

There is an odd element to every song that makes the Gifted Children stand apart from the flock of paint-by-numbers rock bands. An instant favorite would have to be “Offshore News.” This track breaks the staid garage formula by adding an underlying presence of a dirty arpeggiated synth in the background that rings in a squalling freakout of saxophone-induced space-rock. Contrasting it nicely is the power-pop romp “You Smashing Young Prince”—simple, three-chord pop until you notice the bouncing, tremolo-effected bass and what almost sounds like singing wineglasses that hold the melody down from afar, until exploding into a 15-person gang vocal harmony to end the song proper. My Museum Pieces is perhaps the band’s fullest and most cohesive output yet, proving that even after all these years, they aren’t even close to running out of compelling ideas. In a climate where bands tend to spark and fade in a matter of months, the Gifted Children are an example of why it’s better to be a workhorse than a showhorse.

eric kendall

Preview some of the tracks on "My Museum Pieces" on here, on The Gifted Children's website.

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