Alamo Race Track
March 17, 2011
"Unicorn Loves Deer" is an album that in due time will be considered a classic album as it is reminiscent of classic albums in the way it engages and captures the imagination of the listener. The songs are of an intimate and often fragile character that conveys a blend of melody, rhythm and bare emotions that allow you to form a real connection.
While the arrangements of the songs often consist of multiple layers and detailed arrangements, Alamo Race Track manages to prevent this complexity to seep through into the sound of the songs. This way the intimate nature and closeness of the songs is ensured. There certainly is a complexity to the songs on "Unicorn Loves Deer" but on first listen you'll just be mesmerized by a collection of beautiful indiefolk songs that form a tight bond.
Right off the bat the catchy Apples ripples into your ears but as the subtle instrumentation gets richer and the backing vocals kick in, the song has transformed gradually and naturally. On Words Sweet Trouble the folky character is embraced entirely as Alamo Race Track incorporates the banjo and the scheme of the song, though subdued has a typical folk progression.
While "Unicorn Loves Deer" is much calmer and more intimate than its predecessor, there are a couple of swingers taht reflect back on "Black Cat John Brown" with a smile (Shake Off The Leaves, Lindyhop) but the majority of the songs are modest and intriguing of nature.
Though the whole record should be considered one giant highlight, I would like to mention a few key tracks that deserve extra recognition. Motorman and Owls is the absolute champion of the record as it invokes early Neil Young in both the vocals and the lyrics. The subtle arrangement allows singer Ralph Mulder to really deliver the lyrics. Intensity and emotion seeps out of its pores as the song slowly progresses into a catchier folk tune in its middle part. In the end it comes full circle and returns to its initial intensity and conviction while Mulders vocals once again take center stage. The previously mentioned Apples, which opens the album, sets the tone and while it is just a very pretty song it also has a lot of depth. Finally I would mention the song Hypnotized which is so versatile it appears on the record twice. Version 1 is somewhere in the middle of Death Cab For Cutie and Mercury Rev and really captures the hypnotic quality the title suggests. The second version is entirely different with a perfectly organized chaotic feel and instrumental comings and goings. It's so different that you hardly hear it is the same song.
"Unicorn Loves Deer" is a crown achievement. Alamo Race Track should be praised and laureled for releasing one of the most perfect albums of the year. So much control, so much balance, so much depth. All the little tweeks and all the added instrumentals perform a function. Everything becomes part of the song and enriches its arrangement. The end result is simply spellbinding.