Published April 29, 2011
Album Review: Mt. Desolation
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Album | Alternative-Country | 49 Mins.
Brought to you by Dan Grau of WITR

Mt. Desolation, the side project of Keane members Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin, does not deliver the indie ballads you might expect. Right down to the earthy tones of the cover art, this is very much an alternative country album. Though Rice-Oxley and Quin make up the core of the band, they also enlist the musical help of members of Noah and the Whale; The Killers; Mumford & Sons; and The Long Winters. Such a lineup is generally cause for hesitation and uncertainty as to whether the result will be amazing or an utter failure. Thankfully, “Mt. Desolation” does not disappoint. The album has a sense of grandeur about it, calling you to put on your cowboy boots and move out west.

The album starts off strong with the upbeat, fiddle-filled “Departure,” distinctly similar to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” before moving straight into the Springsteen-inspired “Annie Ford.” On the slower end is the beautiful “State of Our Affairs,” a stripped-down skeletal structure of a song filled with strings and soft percussion.

The album covers a wide range of styles, from the foot-stomping, full-on bluegrass stylings in “Platform 7” to the classic, Keane-like “Bitter Pill.” The lyrical content, however, is fairly consistent throughout: stories of love, loss and melancholy. “Mt. Desolation” is by no means a hit sensation. Very calm and atmospheric, it is suitable for a dreary afternoon. It is a remarkably strong departure from the Keane norm that holds on to key parts of their alternative-rock background, and is well worth a listen.

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