Liíl Capín Travis

ÖIn All Their Splendor

 

On In All Their Splendor, Liíl Capín Travis perform a basic mechanical-alchemical modification - as seen in the back pages of Popular Mechanics magazineís June 1978 issue - to transform an old 8-track player into a time machine. The device can be used to go both forward and backward in time; using it, one might return to the site of oneís worst romantic humiliation and say what one should have said to that girl in the swimming pool, or one might instead prefer to beam into the passengerís seat of their old Mustang and advise their 16-year old self to just give up on the mustache. Flip a little switch, though, and not only people but objects and moments can transport themselves through time into a more modern era. A ray of sunshine from a certain summer day might be made to slip forward through a gap of 15 years and play on a pile of Lone Star empties as one is waking up hung-over on a Tuesday morning, for example. A certain guitar lick heard and felt most keenly in oneís teenage bedroom headphones at 2:58 in the morning might be miraculously rediscovered, whole and exactly as remembered, shimmering through the air of an auto parts store.    

 

In All Their Splendor is a record as wistfully, heartbreakingly magnetized by nostalgia, and its skill at translating that nostalgia into blissful modern pop recalls such albums as The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society and Big Starís #1 Record. The members of this band have lived and breathed classic rock - not only 70's hard rock but Motown laments, Southern-fried guitar wankery, sunny psychedelic sway, good-time country-rock, languidly introspective songcraft - for so long that it is alive in them, and their music is not an imitation of it but an unselfconscious, uncalculated, unquestioning continuation of everything it has taught them. As with Beachwood Sparks, My Morning Jacket, or the Thrills, these songs are too emotionally committed and stylistically eclectic to read as retrogression - they donít openly ape any one old style so much as they remind us what rock felt like when you were a teenager and it was, too. The charming scenery and the beautiful girls and the body-temperature water arenít how the world really is Ė theyíre how you secretly remember it being - but the real heartbreak and pain stings like it only can the very first time. There is an undiluted, boyishly naive romanticism to these tracks, casually outfitted in their shimmering, gauzy layers of omnichord and old synthesizers, gorgeous swells of pedal steel, brazenly hooky rock licks. These songs look you long and deep in the eye, and though you can tell theyíre totally stoned, beneath that there is an earnestness that endears powerfully.  

 

The five members that comprise LCT (four of which sing lead on In All Their Splendor) practically live in the very dive bars whereof they sing. Theyíve logged countless long hours in scores of Austin, TX indie-rock, gospel, country, and folk bands. This is their third album and their first for glurp. As in the past, the wry humor, adept musicianship, catholic pop know-how, and general laconic goodwill that have made the band such a huge Austin draw are apparent all over this disc. Present here more consistently than ever before, though, is a subtle seriousness of intent, yearning, and emotional commitment.  Married to their dead-on pop songwriting sensibilities, this commitment limns their tales of used-car salesman, country girls on the wing, teenage losers, and hapless castaways, investing their stories with just enough tenderness so that you see too much of yourself reflected inside to laugh. Itís a difficult, dizzying line to walk - the line between humor and pathos, between longing for the past and living in the present - and not anyone can get away with it. Fortunately, Liíl Capín Travis has the technology.

 

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CD STREETDATE: 05/18/04

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