Ammi - Imitation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Imitation (2006)

Common Cloud

For the select few looking forward to Ammi's debut full-length, Imitation, prepare to be thrown a bit of a curveball. Whereas the band's 2005 EP, Laodicea may have come off something like Kurt Cobain fronting Mineral or Sunny Day Real Estate, Ammi continues to draw from that era but in noticeably different ways. Imitation is, for the most part, assuredly quirky indie rock á la Pavement and Dismemberment Plan.

Less of an emphasis on beautiful, slow-moving and hopeful pieces is placed here on Imitation, and more weird angular moments and strange jams. Opener "Mechanique" makes lead vocalist Philip Vickers sound like John K. Samson with a frog in his throat, while wailing, jazzy trumpet adds a free-form feel. It's then oddly followed up by the 45-second interlude-like track "The Story of Jason Jackson," feeling exactly like an introductory track that came one song too late. "The Circus" would fit in perfectly on Emergency & I. "The Sonambulist," the title track, "For What It's Worth," and the hymn-like "The Ascent of the Prodigal" are the more methodical, heavenly sounding tracks, sounding like the logical progression from Laodicea; subtle, choir-like backings in "Imitation" and "Ascent" really give it that holy effect, especially with church organ in the latter. "Static" picks things up a little from "Imitation," but only gradually, which makes the flow work all the better.

"Screwtape" is a wonderful little ditty with a chorus Minus the Bear fans are going to flock to -- though it's more specifically in the delivery of the line "Who wants to live under the thumb of something you can't understand?" What's really interesting about the song is that Vickers alters a lyric towards the end, singing "Who wants to live under the thumb of a of a God you can't understand?," but it's not included in the liner notes. I definitely sense a bit of self-questioning from a band who blatantly states in the thank yous: "None of this would be possible without the guidance of God who continually blesses and leads us." It's always healthy to see one question their own beliefs in an honest reflection, thus giving them better clarity on issues (you know, if that's the actual case).

I should briefly mention how much I love the cover art. A picture of a staged nativity scene from some random museum, not only acknowledging the album title well, but proving there are great album covers in the most unusual places (though on second thought, a museum could be a treasure trove for that).

I now realize I've talked about practically every track on Imitation, which can only mean it's a remarkably consistent album, even if it's not quite as compelling as I'd like it to be. After a number of months of reviewing it and only giving it 3 stars, Laodicea grew on me quite a bit and I found myself returning to it every so often; hopefully the same will be said about Imitation by year's end.