What I like about Duluth, Minnesota duo If Thousands is they’re unpretentious (having chosen to play instruments they weren’t trained in when they started in 2000) and their music is unobtrusive without being spineless.
Silber Records’ artist profile of If Thousands describes them as ‘angst laden slumbercore ambient’ [sic] – and I can’t stand how accurate that is – but For rides a slow, angular tension which belies a motivation more complex and driven than angst. This is big, open music; its function is undeniable, but its purpose is elusive – and that’s a good thing.
A mellow first few tracks of nearly static chord interaction usher complacency as they stay the minimalist course; this ends with an abrupt, discordant forewarning from the keys, dropping back into place before the fourth track, a moody bass and violin piece that belongs in the fifteenth episode of Firefly. That’s probably the last unexpected event on this album.
Competent in the craft though they are, you might find yourself wishing they’d push harder, challenge your participation and/or your ear-holes, which they’d probably do well. If Thousand drones with a drawl, and it’s surprisingly claustrophobic, outdoorsy. It’s music for in-between places, but not necessarily transit.
It’s notably difficult to make noise without being overindulgent, but If Thousands are anything but, and in this record present a tastefully stated argument for less harshness in your drone meals. Alternately sweet and disjointed, For attracts more than it repels, which admittedly isn’t what many prefer from a guitar/synth duo, but there’s much to be said for music that gives you space to do the thinking.
Bottom line: If Thousand’s For exemplifies the saudade of the Midwest. Though more variety of composition is needed, it’s a solid, hankering statement about gentleness in musical experimentation.
Listen/buy here ($5)