The City On Film - In Formal Introduction (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The City On Film

In Formal Introduction (2005)

Grand Theft Autumn

It's immensely appropriate Bob Nanna of Braid and Hey Mercedes fame chose a band name as opposed to his birthname to act as the vehicle for his songs, because they aren't so much singer/songwriter territory as they are singer/songwriter-infused indie rock. The majority of In Formal Introduction plays off this well, and when it's not, the City On Film still does the singer/songwriter thing steadfastly tight (the first and last minute-or-so of opener "Anticlimactic," the billowy, lightly moving "Lost My Lights").

In Formal Introduction is the debut full-length for the outfit following a slew of 7 inches, split EPs, and compilation appearances (and preceding a few, too). It's backed up by solid, crisp and appropriate production, and Nanna's endearing inflection for eleven tracks. Despite the generally downtrodden tempo of the album, he seems to know how to tread melancholy with a soft touch, brushing more upon the pretty side of the emotion than the depressing, all of which can likely be attributed to Nanna's thickly-laden Elliott Smith influence. The trait itself is best heard in "Forgiveness," as Aubrey Pickering's cello weaves in and out of the verses as does a lightly galloping acoustic strum by Nanna. A bit of subtle folk sway is thrown about as well, underlying a track such as the re-recorded "I'd Rather Be Wine Drunk."

However, Nanna has more experience with rocking out, so when he does, as in "For Holly," which opens with a catchy, song-relying guitar riff, and vocals lightly keeping pace, it works pretty well. "For Holly" is more mid-tempo than anything, but in comparison to the rest of the album, it's a refreshingly rhythmic track and a nice break from the more subdued approach handled by Nanna.

Supporting Introduction is a classy layout with dark tones overshadowing some dinner party photographs, drinks consistently in hand. It's hard to explain, but it fits well with the album's general vibe and flow.

In Formal Introduction is a solid debut that manages to showcase the delicately narrative talents of Bob Nanna, as well as an intricately adept musical construction -- with the help of some friends, of course. Though the example of City On Film's prolificness is seen with one glance of the discography, it's nice to have a full set of the results in one place, and judging from such, it's likely greater things are on the horizon.

For Holly