Written by Frank McClure, posted by blog admin
Led by lead singer and synthesizer player Logan Andra Fongemie and guitarist Sean Hogan, Minneapolis’ Astronomique are sure to impress many with the release of their ten song collection Sharp Divide. There’s an overarching coherence defining the release shared by few albums in any vein and the four piece lineup plays with enormous chemistry reflected in the relatively sterile nature of a studio recording. There are certain consistent points sustaining the release, but Astronomique is quite at home with surprising their listeners as well while never going so far overboard as to make such efforts unrecognizable. Sharp Divide is cut to just the right length as well and the band’s confidence never seems to slip during the entirety of the release. Rather than coming off as talented young musicians, Astronomique comes off as a talented assemblage of veteran musicians near or reaching the peak of their artistic powers.
We are treated to a shot of that confidence, up close, with the album’s first song. “Forefathers” has an internal drive that’s impossible to ignore, focused largely on the work of bassist Preston Saari and drummer Mitch Billings, but the contributions from both Fongemie and Hogan offer much as well to this stellar track. “We Disappear” is another powerful potential single and Saari’s sternum shaking pulse is the heart of the song. Fongemie’s synthesizer flourishes are also particularly effective for adding color to this piece. Song construction is one of Sharp Divide’s strongest merits and few of the songs on this collection are more solid than “We Disappear”.
The songs “Losing Our Control” and “Sharp Divide”, however, raise the standards by which we evaluate this album. Astronomique burrow their best songs in the album’s midway point and both, specifically the title song, sound fully fleshed our and ready for the stage. The small hop Billings gives the song with his percussion is a stylistic note he strikes again on Sharp Divide, but never with the same sort of positive effect Billings achieves bringing it into “Losing Our Control”. “Smoke” is more cluttered, in some respects, than the earlier and later songs, but attentive listeners will appreciate the band’s willingness to mix things up for their listeners rather than remaining content to churn out variations on a theme for the entirety of Sharp Divide’s ten songs.
“Bleed Me” is another of the album’s more ominous numbers, evidenced by its title, but catches your ear in large part thanks to the unique contrast between its lyrics and engaging, likable musical content. Fongemie’s vocal is especially emotive here. The drum patterns for “Heading Nowhere” establish a patient, slightly busy groove for this mid-tempo album finale and the throb of Preston Saari’s voice gives the song a resonant center than never goes away. It seems like Fongemie’s vocals are laden with more echo than ever before, but it shouldn’t dampen your enthusiasm for the track or this stunning studio release.