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The Rentals - The Story of a Thousand Seasons (Cover Artwork)

The Rentals

The Rentals: The Story of a Thousand SeasonsThe Story of a Thousand Seasons (2009)
self-released

Reviewer Rating: 3.5


Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Part one of the Rentals' proposed three-part Songs About Time project dropped this month with The Story of a Thousand Seasons EP, and with it a preorder for the whole shebang. 2009 finds the Rentals at their slimmest -- Jamie Black, Lauren Chipman, Dan Joeright and Matt Sharp, with Pixies alum Joey .


Part one of the Rentals' proposed three-part Songs About Time project dropped this month with The Story of a Thousand Seasons EP, and with it a preorder for the whole shebang. 2009 finds the Rentals at their slimmest -- Jamie Black, Lauren Chipman, Dan Joeright and Matt Sharp, with Pixies alum Joey Santiago guesting on "Song of Remembering," are all that remain from the band's reunion on 2007's The Last Little Life EP. It's fitting, in that Thousand Seasons is easily the most stripped-down Rentals release. Mellow and pretty, it downplays most of the Rentals' previous strengths. It's not nearly as synth-driven and the melodies are colder. And yet, The Story of a Thousand Seasons works.

It opens with "Song of Remembering," an electronic ditty that doubles as Songs About Time's pseudo-mission statement. The project revolves around three areas -- music, photos (Photographs About Days), and short films (Films About Weeks). The band is shooting/posting a film for every week, and frontman Matt Sharp is snapping shots for every day of the year. Chipman hits a fantastic hook over an electronic drum beat -- "Not everyone moves beyond the past / Everything moves / But outside these photographs everything dies / Cycles of time / Everyone is passing, passing, passing, passing through." It's sad and mournful and obsessive and beautiful. Which is kind of like the overall project -- it's an attempt to catch and catalog as much of 2009 as possible. Which more or less correlates with the title track, which follows.

"Story of a Thousand Seasons Past" adds another layer to the first song's record-keeping. Among shining piano and violin lines, Sharp bemoans how "we have this technology to send apologies that swim inside our heads." He believes that this instant availability devalues communication -- and he's kind of right, ya Facebook stalkers -- and settles for writing all his thoughts down, to be read at another date, when he's more removed from the experience.

"All I Have" reaffirms the EP's obsession with records of any sort, this time hearkening back to Last Little Life's synth-y indie rock while recalling the seduction of city streets that was best captured on Seven More Minutes. It's the dreamiest of the new tracks, and an excellent segue into the last song, "Seven Years," which is darn right driving compared to the more ethereal previous material.

The Story of a Thousand Seasons takes a few listens to warm up to. It's colder and more understated compared to Return of the Rentals or Seven More Minutes, and the hooks are less obvious. But that's what gives it distinction. This EP edges into territory the Rentals never fully embraced before -- the electronic music, guitar squalls and honest-to-gosh piano on "Song of Remembering" certainly stand out. Time will tell whether or not this is the new direction of Songs About Time or just one avenue. Check out therentals.com to stream/purchase the tunes on MP3, FLAC or CD. The next chapter is due in August.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
blanktapesemptybottles (May 4, 2009)

yeah but it looks like no cds, just downloads unless you get the box sets

greg0rb (May 4, 2009)

It's $4. But I assume you're talking about the 'box sets' or whatever they're calling the full deal at the end of the year. And yes those are too expensive. I'm the biggest rentals fan I know and I will not buy them. Just each EP please.

blanktapesemptybottles (May 3, 2009)

way too fucking expensive, I mean really?

greg0rb (May 3, 2009)

My fav off Seven More Minutes is Keep Sleepin. Just downloaded this new one too. Yeah, understated for sure, but I'm diggin' it.

Bryne (May 3, 2009)

I'd rank Seven More Minutes below Return of the Rentals, but yeah, definitely a solid record.

Jelone (May 2, 2009)

And Bryne, tell me you've heard Seven More Minutes. "The Man With Two Brains" is tops.

Jelone (May 2, 2009)

Greg: I bought it. I was briefly in touch with their pr back in 2007 when I covered their show/Last Little Life EP for my college newspaper, but I haven't heard anything from their camp since then. Weak sauce, but I dig the tunes.

bryne (May 2, 2009)

This score.

bryne (May 2, 2009)

Good review, but as much as I enjoy The Rentals' early work I'm not too interested in hearing this. Score's for Return of the Rentals.

mikexdude (May 2, 2009)

Eh.

Great review.

greg0rb (May 2, 2009)

Did someone get this to you or did you just buy it? I need to get it for sure, but I have been emailing contacts with the rentals and pr/label people to try and get promo stuff for whatever their upcoming whatever would be since Last Little Life came out and no one has ever even returned an email.

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