Meredith Bragg + The Terminals, The Departures EP (The Kora Records)

Posted January 31st, 2006 by admin

Meredith Bragg + The Terminals
The Departures EP
The Kora Records
By: Kerry M

Ben Gibbard had better watch his back. For better or worse, Meredith Bragg & The Terminals clearly have him and his Death Cab Postal Service in their sights. Following closely on the heels of their well-received debut, Volume 1, The Departures EP reveals a more confident Bragg and an even more refined emulation of the Death Cab For Cutie song craft. In fact, several lyrics from The Departures EP could have easily been swiped from old Ben's Hello Kitty stickered Moleskine notebook and might very well be mistaken for Death Cab b-sides by an unsuspecting iPod shuffle listener vacantly staring out the window of a lonely intercity bus.

As obvious as the influences on their sleeves, the tracks from The Departures EP deal frankly and openly with the process of departing and moving on. Empty Beds, with its catchy YMG-like strumming, colorful vibes and orchestral chorus of “what will I do for christmas?” laments the next steps taken following the end of a relationship, while Postcard from Boston employs fragile finger-picking, cello and hushed percussion to accompany an imagined late night phone call full of longing. Talk Me Down, a slightly turbulent track of tumult, ebbs and flows with varied instrumentation and timing changes that seem to mirror the ups and downs of the relationship as Bragg urges his interlocutor not to be rash in departing too soon following an apparent lovers’ quarrel. Meanwhile, Let's Start Over with its Kronos Quartet cello and Gibbardesque lyrical stylings of “I don't know what is worse, living once or in reverse” could probably pass for a clever Postal Service + Kronos Quartet mashup if served up as such by a sneaky mp3blog.

Though he's clearly becoming more vocally assured and comfortable with his songwriting talents, as well as those of his bandmates, Bragg's lyrical delivery remains decidedly derivative throughout much of the EP. The final track, a cover of Jason Molina's Two Blue Lights, proves that Mr. Bragg is capable of much more than impressive impressions of Ben and Elliott and would do well to plan a stylistic departure for himself and the Terminals. It would be quite a shame to squander such talent and potential by perpetuating the unfortunate label of being “that band that sounds like Death Cab.”

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To Buy the EP, visit the Kora Records Store.

Tags: review