What makes a Good Record truly good is that sublime sense that the artist is pulling strands of inspiration from the ether and reconstituting them in ways that are wholly unique. Good Records don't sound calculated, though they are often the result of hours of perfectionist labor. They don't sound sloppy, though they usually sound quite natural. They are exotic enough to get your attention and familiar enough to keep it. Good Records are never made by "local bands." Which means not that "O Sinner" isn't a Good Record, but simply that, by making it, Bloom has moved well beyond the restrictions of scenester-ism, drink specials and reduced expectations that keep "local bands" from making Good Records. Granted, a lot of what makes "O Sinner" both a good record and a Good Record are the years of live performances and songwriting practice that the group has notched up. And due credit has to be given to the production and mixing work of Brian Paulson (Beck, Superchunk, Uncle Tupelo). But "O Sinner" is, at root, a testament to the power of a skilled trio of musicians with great songs and a streak of creative integrity that required them make the best and most interesting album they could, rather than cotton to marketability or commercial considerations. It's certainly not a perfect record, but the sing-along chorus of "Seven Wonders" or the propulsive, rockist coda of "Remote Control" might temporarily convince you otherwise. (The latter song has, I swear, a dozen songs' worth of ideas crammed into its three-and-a-half-minute length.) Splitting the difference between thick, brainy pop, muscular power-trio rock and dense melodrama, each of the 13 tracks is individually successful and, as an album, they come together remarkably well. Though most of the album is thoroughly up-tempo and explosively catchy, Devin Moore's languid vocals and thoughtful lyrics provide just the right amount of pathos, keeping the whole affair from becoming too sunny. But honestly, when you're singing along to "Black Eyeliner" or rocking out to "Don't Tell a Dead Man How to Die," the cynicism that's dripping from his tongue is nearly rendered moot. It's that combination of textures, that lack of predictability, that makes O Sinner such an engaging listen. It sounds like the kind of album your favorite band just made. It sounds like, believe it or not, a Good Record. (Bloom perform at Back Booth on Saturday, Jan. 24 with the SuicideGirls Live Burlesque.)
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