Under Review: Sam Roberts – Love At The End Of The World

Well-executed pop music is the end result of many elements, chief among them being balance. Quiet verses and loud choruses, happy lyrics and downbeat music, charismatic guitarist and gloomy keyboardist; the matched pairs are endless but crucial. On the third album with his eponymous band, Sam Roberts combines two very contrasting emotions, optimism and futility, into the fascinating journey that is Love At The End Of The World. The title itself conveys several conflicting messages: is Roberts a modern day Nero, playing his music to an inevitably collapsing culture, or is he the last bearer of sunshine in a world that’s suffocating itself with dullness? Though introduced relatively late in the album, the character of “The Pilgrim,” a man steeped in old-time ways and cut off from modern news and concerns, seems to serve as the record’s narrator. The more upbeat songs deal with observations of crises like rampant materialism (“Stripmall Religion”) and the beat(en) generation’s disregard for knowing how to dance (“Them Kids”). Roberts takes time to look inwards as well, tackling past lovers (“Oh Maria,” “Words & Fire”), as well as his own present (“Sundance”) and inevitable fate (“The Lions Of The Kalahari”). The album culminates with “Up Sister,” a tempo-shifting battle between the past and the future, between comfort and change. Our northern neighbors have had the chance to soak in Love At The End Of The World for nearly a year already, but don’t let the delayed release date deter you from checking out this tour de force from one of indie rock’s most original songwriters.

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~ by E. on February 16, 2009.

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