Where trip-hop meets new age-y romanticism and slick-as-sweat production, there will you find Sarah Scott and Jonathan Kochmer, the duo comprising Seattle’s Two Loons For Tea. Their third album Nine Lucid Dreams initially recalls the crossover appeal of Massive Attack and Zero 7, even if it doesn’t reinvent the genre. What you’ll find instead is a collection of easy-to-digest tracks that will appeal to the average young urban professional as he/she suffers his/her way through traffic on their hellish daily commute.
While I could go on and on about how Sarah Scott’s best Sia impersonation is still only second best to the siren herself, the diva sure can sing. With a sensual assurance that colors most of the tracks on Dreams a vibrant shade of, let’s say red (that’s a sexy color, right?), Scott provides the airy base for Kochmer’s musical vision. How lucid those visions appear varies, from the stirring simplicity and spaciousness of (the unfortunately titled) “Eyebrows Are Nature’s Makeup” to an abysmal attempt at Dixieland jazz on “Dixie it Up.”
To be sure, Two Loons For Tea dabble in music meant to inspire mood. Nowhere is this more apparent than on opener “Sunset Room,” an early highpoint on the album, drenched in deliciously resonating keyboards. Scott’s vocals cast a mellow radiance across lilting atmospherics; this is where they rightfully earn the title `dreampop.’ But just like a sunset that fades too quickly, so does the album soon wither into obsequious imitation of its more obvious influences. Follow-up track “Monkey” garbles some awkward lyrics about said monkey while trying too desperately to pose as a B-side from The Garden.
“Tragically Hip” nearly recaptures the gentle ambiance of “Sunset Room,” amid some simple drums and a lithely picked guitar. When redemption seems imminent, in glides Kochmer on vocals for the contrived “Consuela” in a futile attempt to play understudy to Jose Gonzales. Kissing goodbye any chance of salvaging the rest of the album, “Strongest Man In The World” plucks at one too many heartstrings to be taken seriously. Paired with ” Marietta,” which actually manages to make the vibraphone sound un-cool, and Nine Lucid Dreams begins an irretrievable descent into mediocrity.
A requisite degree of suaveness must follow any musician attempting to tread the silky-smooth streets of trip-hop. Two Loons For Tea, in an attempt to prove they have `it,’ show instead that they may be too cool for their own good. Perhaps another visit to The Garden will give them the inspiration needed to produce their own original fruits.
Massive Attack – Blue Lines
Zero 7 – The Garden
Husky Rescue – Country Falls