Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rahim / Ideal Lives / Rating: 7.5

“While retaining the EP's inchoate sound-- the clangorous mid-tempo guitars, incantatory vocals, and chiseled rhythms-- it's much poppier, more subtle, and subdued than its predecessor.”

People are going to think I am sweet on this Brian Howe guy. As PFM writers go he not only tends to review the records I know best but at least as of late we are appear to be riding on the same train of thought. He just uses bigger words and structures his reviews like one of those real writer types I don’t pretend to be.

Where our trains divide is here: I like this winning race horse of a band (Rahim) driven by mid tempo and cracked by a whip of minor notes but there is only so much trot-like pacing I can take. All 11 tracks act as if a template to the next, an oval track bringing the listener round to where the song started and the song before it and as the song after it will take it.

“Desire” builds Ideal Lives to nearly a gallop buy just when you think maybe Rahim is indeed picking up the pace, they stubbornly return to the same gait where the first 5 songs began.

PFM says: “It's as if J. Robbins had skipped directly from from Jawbox's early Dischord albums to the more restrained Burning Airlines, or maybe what Q and Not U would have done had they stuck around for a few more years.”


I wondered what it was like for J to work with Rahim because he basically recorded what could have just as easily been a modern day Jawbox record so I just HAD to ask J about this myself. Mister humble (you will NEVER meet a man with less of an ego than J) made some joke about not being able to sing as well and beyond telling me how much he loved the band's song writing, the men AKA the members of Rahim, the addition of a Baltimore local horn player, and Ideal Lives in its entirety, the mirror image topic was dropped.

These days most of the members of Jawbox have children and new careers so things like a reunion or touring are realistically unlikely but at least we have Rahim. A band who is happy to be compared to Q and Not U or Jawbox but according to interviews would be happier if you noticed their affection for Blonde Redhead and the Beatles too.

If I wasn’t such a lifelong fan of all that is Dischord and tense rhythms dotted with dark melodies and single guitar notes that won’t sit still, I might have been more tempted to fail this record rather than pass it. Much like Wildreness I think Rahim is onto something good but haven’t surpassed great…YET…but I can’t wait for when it eventually happens.

A 7.5 rating it is.