Snowpony – The Slow Motion World Of Snowpony [spotify– Three Can Keep A Secret (If Two Are Dead) [spotify]

Snowpony contains former members of My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab.  The less talented members, apparently. Which is not to say that Snowpony is a bad band. Rather, “The Slow-Motion World of Snowpony” (Radioactive Records) sounds like the product of a good band with too much studio time on its hands.

When Katherine Gifford (vocals, samples, programming) sings “she is my bad sister / I always wanted to be like her,” it’s hard not to think that the “she” in question is Garbage’s Shirley Manson. Gifford attempts to purloin Manson’s vixen persona but instead comes off like a charmless Suzanne Vega. Lyrically, she runs the gamut from clever (“I prayed for rain and it came down dust / what I thought was love was only lust”) to painful (“cut my arms, I don’t bleed red / water drips from the cuts instead”).

Gifford’s real weakness, however, is her sampling. While her samples add texture to many of the tracks, they overwhelm others. The overblown horn samples on “Bad Sister” drown any power the song might have in a staccato blast of ‘60’s cheese and the backward samples on “St. Lucy’s Gate” turn a beautiful song in an atonal mess.

Debbie Googe (bass guitar) is a capable instramentalist, but her often-distorted basslines get lost in layer after layer of samples. Drummer Max Corradi’s tight yet jazzy grooves, which at times seem to be only things keeping Snowpony’s songs from becoming meandering, aimless melodies, are the highlight of the album.

Together, when these parts congeal into a coherent whole, beautiful melodies result.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen nearly enough.  For a band with such impressive lineage, Snowpony ultimately disappoints.

2.0

written 9/24/98