Clear horizons

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Anything can show up on a June of 44 album – typewriters, Moog synths, melodic-skronk guitars, avant-howling, Miles at Fillmore-esque trumpet, start-stop Studebaker drums, the familiar incantations of a ship’s captain explaining deserted shores and hearts – which makes deciphering the band’s comings and goings since 1995 more than a little challenging. But recently the boys had gotten into a nonformulaic rut. Four Great Points (1998) found them at a rather disagreeable crossroads where the dub undertones populating albums such as 1997’s The Anatomy of Sharks had worn themselves out and Jeff Mueller’s howling, though seemingly cathartic for him, was anything but for anyone within earshot.

Anahata, on the other hand, visits June of 44 on a calmer day at sea. There is virtually no screaming, with the band consciously making room for its newfound interest in the written word by publishing the lyrics to the songs inside the album. Now, along with the standard navigational song titles ("Escape of the Levitational Trapeze Artist" and "Equators to Bi-polar"), there are even more elliptical thoughts and phrases to juggle, from the simple themes of "Wear Two Eyes" ("On my back I wear two eyes/those that see a better life") to the almost-alarming hippie charm of the 10-minute-plus closer, "Peel Away Valleity" ("I have an ambiguous dream of you serene/surrounded in a sunflower scene").

In a wonderful change in (or return to) form, Anahata illuminates a quixotic image of June of 44 as a band interested in lyrical playfulness as much as musical thoughtfulness – a band that creates a sonic narrative where questions of "why American indie rock?" dissolve into the spaces between Doug Sharin’s drum fills.

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