Valet - Life On The Installment Plan (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Life On The Installment Plan (2004)


Minneapolis's Valet is semi-folky, singer/songwriter-inspired and mellow indie pop, to the point where even iTunes lists it as "Easy Listening." This is likely why the type who likes to dismiss entire genres would miss out on Valet (not that I'm never a main offender of said actions), as the band's culmination of influences shine through nicely and work well for them. Singer/guitarist Robin Kyle has a very sit-down, storytelling style, and seems to be more in touch with Jeff Buckley than The Honorary Title's debut released earlier this year (who received many said comparisons, but is nonetheless a better overall effort for reasons best explained elsewhere), and definitely carries a similar though less moody feel.

Kyle's vocals are a keen blend that flashes shades of a less quirky Bob Dylan stamped with a Tom Petty-esque patent. His smooth voice is like sand, both grainy and smooth simultaenously, but never grating or implicity dull. Life On The Installment Plan leans somewhat on this and somewhat on its fair use of slow, galloping chords and the occasional alternate instrument accompaniment: the horn usage in "George Best Vs. Michael Stone" is classy. Relatively cynical but rather honest, lyrics like "celebrites are getting awards tonight" ("Celebrites Burning Crosses") fit the album perfectly, showing cautionary optimism alongside narrative passages.

Immaculate in its competentency but somewhat lacking in its state of attempted whelm, Valet's newest full-length is a fair piece of alternative-alternative-country, mixing gentle indie pop dashes with folky splashes and sincere storytelling elements, all led by smooth vocals and tight musicianship.