Tied up in a tangle

Having shifted gears repeatedly before releasing its first full-length album (this one), Head North seems to have decided to take its punk roots and throw just about everything else into the sink. This sprawling, at times disjointed, album is breathtaking in its ambition and spread.

Head North
The Last Living Man Alive Ever in the History of the World

Veering from early-80s Peter Gabriel experimental electronic rock to emo raver to edgy roots rambler (and mixing those ideas even while throwing more in), the songs on this set do not have a cohesive aural center. Which cements the Gabriel reference, in my book. Also, Brent Martone has that reedy/raspy vocal tone that makes such a comparison almost required.

While the music is all over the place, this is a concept album. As the band says, the lyrics center around the idea of a "world where God and love are forbidden." But not in some mawkish, mopey way. These are sharp, biting snatches of exhilaration and pain. And the loose ends aren't tied up. Like all those novels you had to read in college.

But see, I liked those novels. And I really like this album. It took me a long time to start to get my head around it, but I heard the nascent greatness from the beginning. Listen to this 10 times, and you'll realize why you need to listen to it another 100 before you'll even start to take it all in.

Jon Worley

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