Miracle Of 86 - Last Gasp (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Miracle Of 86

Last Gasp (2004)

Immigrant Sun

If Conor Oberst went through months of counselling and therapy, Bright Eyes would probably sound a lot like Miracle Of 86, comparatively speaking. Incredibly uplifting and free-spirited with a dash of pessimism to keep it grounded, the band's Last Gasp EP is simply put, some great tunes. Not that the band's lyrical content ever addresses the manufacturing illness of capitalism, but there's a Bright Eyes-mixed-with-rock-feel that isn't far from the likes of, say, Desaparecidos, but just generally happier; perhaps an alt-countryish Limbeck twist with the same upbeat feel. Kevin Devine's incredibly honest voice really is an absolute gift to the style, as bits of rustling gravel spill through the speakers at all his emotional peaks.

The acoustic/folk-based "Oh Dakota" is an absolutely fantastic opener, opening modestly to midtempo strumming and unintentionally heart-wrenching lyrics, and really sets the pace for the rest of the album. Bleak hope is a juxtaposition that apparently works wonderfully here, with lines like "I'm a shitty set of tires looseleaf thin, carved out, and popped." Its follower, "Surprise Me," has Devine begging its very title, for him to see "a laywer that cares for his clients," or "a painting that's not pretentious." "We Keep You Honest" is the standout track, with another smooth and modest intro, a perfect flow with its somehow appropriate chunky chord progression and emotional chorus, threatening bullshit detection on liars worldwide. The piano-driven, slower paced "Jesus Christine" is an ill fit for the EP with what seems like an alternate vocalist and bad 70s ballad rock overtones. Nonetheless, everything sandwiching it is good enough to let it slide, including the storytelling feel of the last track "Every Famous Last Word," which closes out beautifully with Devine powerfully yelling, "I was a trap door waiting to swallow you!" and then calming down to sing "I was a picked lock, a broken bicycle immobilized and hanging in place just nodding my head and hiding my face in my hands...auditioning my escape plan."

As the band already has several releases under their belt, I feel like I'm describing a situation here that's already common knowledge to many of Miracle's seemingly isolated fans, but it obviously needs wider-spread tellings. Last Gasp is a great little release by a band in dire need of apparently well-deserved recognition. If a hopefully approaching full-length can capitalize on the emotions, honesty, and generally midtempo yet feel-good rock of this EP, Miracle Of 86 will hopefully receive their due. As much as I'd love for a band to go out on top, I'd much rather it be with befitting acknowledgement.

We Keep You Honest
Oh Dakota
When It's On My Mind
Every Famous Last Word