O'Brother - The Death of Day (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Death of Day (2009)

Favorite Gentlemen

O'Brother doesn't depart too far from a lot of the common Favorite Gentlemen Records characteristics: tense indie rock foundation; a restrained southern drawl; a vaguely bluesy coating; heady concerns about religious beliefs; and a weighty, emotional feel. Yet, The Death of Day stands out, in part because of their moody, post-rock textures, giving their half-hour-long EP a brooding and pensive, ever-questioning feel. Think Colour Revolt, but with a lot less Modest Mouse and a bit more Mono.

To be sure, The Death of Day is a grower. "Providence" opens with a few seconds of ominous, offsetting feedback before a frenetic, bass-driven fit follows and the song really kicks in, eventually adding tasteful layers like strings and xylophone. It also gives the listener a first impression of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Tanner Merritt, who has a fairly deep, kinda smokey delivery that stays somewhat steady and breathy through the EP's course. But he's definitely got some versatility, as he can beautifully coo and otherwise snarl; one of his most memorable moments comes when he gives off a bit of the latter, like the first time he howls that hook in "The Great Release": "Swallow them down, / it burns like fire," and especially the bit "there he stood!" in "Division of Man."

The band's careful post-rock luminescence often invades the proceedings, and for the better. The second half features all of O'Brother's aspects nicely: seven-minute-plus centerpiece "Ascension" wastes little time going into dreamy, wandering post-rock mode; the 3:31 "Division of Man" is a bit heavier and layered, more straightforward indie rock with a great in/out bassline and swelling propulsions; nearly ten-minute closer "Oh, Charitable Thief" splits the difference, with a heart-fluttering air of billowy guitars weaving in and out of Merritt's occasionally Thom Yorke-esque vocal over it all, which eventually leads into a choir-like group taking the song out with about two minutes left. It's a cascading flourish, and damn beautiful.

As much as it's already full of accomplished sounds and fairly breathtaking elements, this is an extremely promising EP all the same. Favorite Gentlemen's building quite the roster and O'Brother are already at its forefront.

The Death of Day