Decades by The Receiver
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Decades began, oddly enough, as Casey Cooper's senior thesis, which may be an off-putting prospect smacking of an esoteric and intellectual musical approach that will send the general public running for cover. But far from it -- Cooper's project was intended to reflect the complexity of human emotion in all its wonder and nuances. Still, that doesn't particularly illuminate the wonderful atmospheres and iridescent dreamy quality of his resulting band and their debut album. The Receiver is multi-instrumentalist Casey Cooper and his equally talented brother, drummer Jesse, bolstered for this album by Anthony Rogers' strings and Lindsay Ciulla's French horn. Decades itself is a glimmering album, its many charms gauged to engage both musical masters and the masses alike. A number of the musical themes and progressions are returned to across the set, but each time in a different mode, some subtly changed, others more radically altered in tempo, arrangement and key. The trained musician will inevitably find these variations scintillating and inspired, but in the grander scheme, especially with the careful sequencing, it creates a sublime whole comprised of musical currents that continually ebb and flow. It also enhances the wonderfully organic feel of the album, and a sense of drifting languorously on a sea of sound, further enhanced by Cooper's almost breathy vocals, sweet and understated, but laden with emotion. Unlike most albums, Decades is best experienced as a whole rather than in its constituent parts. Heard in pieces, the set loses its magnificent flow, the subtle shifts in atmospheres, the overarching crescendos of the album's dynamics, and the internal cohesion of the musical themes. Still, some of the more willful and aggressive numbers like "Afternoon," "In Tunnels," and "Goliath" stand firmly on their own, as does the lovely, harmonic "Sober Hands." All told, Decades is a gorgeous album, filled with a richness of sound and moods, with a glowing ambience that must be heard to be believed. --All Music Guide