Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Absolutepunk reviews Baumer's "Were it Not For You"

huge thanks to Julia Conny and the entire Absolutepunk staff!

Baumer – Were It Not For You
Record Label: Eyeball Records
Release Date: March 4th, 2008

‘Tronicas aren’t hard to figure out. They usually contain robotic tendencies, encourage some sort of dancing, and reminisce New Order. Sometimes this works great, sometimes it becomes a disaster and a half. Sometimes the synth sounds snotty and cliché-industrial, and sometimes a ‘tronica is clever, snappy and a situational winner. Baumer is decidedly the latter. Were It Not For You off Eyeball Records is a smooth as a butter boogie down beat, and it wisks along from start to finish with watertight transitions and impeccable punches of percussion.

But where do you go when the party is over? ‘Tronicas, like this sexy synth number, are often disposable, like a one night stand or a Dixie cup. What is very obvious with Were It Not For You from starter “In Your Stead” is that the synth is going to be big and detailed. Operating in a more refined, classier taste than cheap, slutty synth arrangements (see She Wants Revenge and Jonezetta's "Bringing It Back Tonight"), Baumer brings about a sophistication in the typically throwaway dance-pop genre. The rumbling, hip hop beginning of “Hard Drug” sequencing into the full-sized stampede of guitars is a capturing take. Many layers later, and Baumer tracks are stocked and complete. This also gives Were it Not For You more credibility and lasting power than a shallow tryst, and it also lets me concentrate on more than what's next, like silver-piped vocalist Nate Boykin. My biggest, and pretty much only, reservation with the album is its lack of tempo variability; there is only one fully slower-paced track – the title and last song on the record - and with Boykin being such a silky raconteur, it’s bang-up passionate and hooking. Bring me more of these.

Here's another reason why I've fallen smitten with these South Carolina slickers: Baumer is a walking, record-releasing sex bomb, and they aren't even trying to get my panties off, which is ten times sexier. “On Our Way,” my hands-down favorite, has stunning harmonies and a light-headed melody; Boykin’s modest-toned singsong on this track give Baumer their second definitive ‘tronica edge. This applies to the lyrics as well, which are all about love but different sorts. “Lucky Strike” is about wafers of smoke and that sweet drag. “The Belmont Curse” is a religious number, and “Sidewalk Stopping” uses NYC streets and shopping bags as a romantic gesture. It’s another a fresh cut in this Dixie-cup managed genre. All of this, plus the lush synth/guitar combination, give Were It Not For You a lot more worth than any dance album would yield by standard. I can even say I’m a bit surprised; I didn’t think Baumer would last so long.

But I think that’s because there is a trick. Spend a little more time with the album than you think you would, and it’ll sweet talk you, at least “On Our Way” or “Were It Not For You”. Nice guys finish last? Yeah, and Baumer is waiting and patient.