As glowing as the reviews were for Damiera's debut, M(US)IC, no one could deny how one-sided the record was. Dameira's focus was narrowed to noodly, three-minute math rock stomps with a high-pitched vocal wail and little else for the ten tracks that made up the album.
One breakup and consequential lineup overhaul later, the band has produced (literally -- they produced the album themselves in an old high school building) Quiet Mouth Loud Hands, an effort that finds the quartet stretching into new and intriguing territory, and providing a more versatile set of tricks to keep listeners interested and on their toes.
Quiet Mouth Loud Hands still bears a lot of familiar traits that Damiera fans have come to known; those spiky guitars and frontman David Raymond's creepily high voice are still at the forefront here, and still evoke vague comparisons to Brazil. However, new shades of alt-rock permeate the album, but never in a mopey butt-rock way -- more in the feel of the ambitious silver-space aesthetic of someone like Sparta or even Placebo.
Even then, Damiera sometimes go beyond that. No joke: When Raymond's delivery sporadically speeds up in the title track, one is instantly reminded of Paula Abdul's pre-chorus in "Straight Up." But ran over a quickly pulsing guitar riff and jumping bass line makes it work fantastically, and proves Raymond has developed his voice well enough to traverse new terrain triumphantly. The chorus of it is quite compelling too, even if Raymond once again bears comparisons to Coheed and Cambria's Claudio Sanchez. Meanwhile, the electronic-touched "Teacher, Preacher" has been making waves for sounding quite a bit like Michael Jackson and Maroon 5, and it's totally true. Christ, at one moment it sounds identical to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." But again, it pretty much works despite its blatant similarities. As for "Blinding Sir Bluest," there's a bit of everything mentioned in this paragraph.
Where the band seem to come into their own and provide truly unique moments are for numbers like "Image and Able," where a subtle and modestly delivered chorus resonates well after repeated listening, and "Chromatica," a smoothly energetic track with stuttering drum taps and dynamic atmosphere. "Woodbox" is all strumming and fluttering acoustic guitars playing into each other over a lively drummed backbeat.
All through this, though, Damiera still wield some tight songwriting -- Quiet Mouth's 11 tracks clock in at just over 31 minutes. That makes for a noticeably ambitious sophomore effort without sophomoric qualities, wrapped up in a compact half-hour that begs to be closely analyzed for its intricacies and nuances -- because Quiet Mouth Loud Hands has quite a bit.
Quiet Mouth Loud Hands