Some albums make me think of cinema while still others remind me of loosely edited anthology collections. To follow this cultural artifact metaphorical trend, the latest effort by Madison, Wisconsin’s His and Her Vanities is a novella, a picture pretty work of hopeless anxiety. Trim as can be, The Mighty Lunge gets a lot of angst-inducing uncertainty into its 29 1/2 minutes, a testament as much to the coherent and singular thematic focus of the album as to band principals (and married duo) Ricky and Terrin Reimer’s handiness with crafting compact, to-the-point-and-no-further songs.
This atmosphere of frustrated and even fearful directionless is particularly noticeable in songs like evident in songs like “Hits Like Hail,” “Wait It Out,” and “New Designs.” In “Hits Like Hail,” Reimer plaintively croons over a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-esque background about fruitlessness and apparent impending doom, while on “Wait It Out” the narrator appears to be some sort of metaphysical refugee with no clear path down which to trod.
Lest all this sound like so much overwrought emo nonsense, the genius of the record is found in the dissonant pairing between the lyrics and the music. While Ricky Reimer’s lead vocals belt out the downtrodden narratives in a way that is slightly more upbeat than you’d expect from the message being evoked, the instumental accompaniment is positively giddy. A relaxed and somewhat poppy post-punk, Mr.Reimer and bandmate Matt Ablanalp wield guitars in a manner you’d expect from on a Pixies release recorded midway through a low-grade treatment of zoloft. Simultaneously, Mrs. Reimer and drummer Sara Quigle anchor a rhythm section that brings to mind a more disciplined Sonic Youth. By and large, the album sounds upbeat even as it speaks of morose notions, though on tracks like “What it is,” “Agenda,” and “Fuses” (and, to a lesser extent ,”Fragments”) find the rock about as dark as the rhetoric. Though, in the final analysis, not quite.