Vicious Folly on a strong note." /> L.A. Record


December 4th, 2017 | Album reviews

Vicious Folly EP
Grand Gallop

Introducing yourself to the world with a near-perfect first song is inevitably both a blessing and a curse. That’s what Line & Circle did back in 2012: The A side to their first 7-inch was “Roman Ruins,” an elegant collision of guitar jangle and aching melody that earned the band well-deserved comparisons to R.E.M. and the Smiths. So that’s a blessing! But then came the curse of living up to heightened expectations. Line & Circle’s new EP Vicious Folly finds the L.A. band exploring the same general corner of the sonic universe, though they’ve darkened their sound and lyrical themes a bit. “Man Uncouth” moves at a quicker pace than most of the band’s stuff, contrasting Brian J. Cohen’s leisurely baritone and romantic hand-wringing. The title track’s low end bounces like a rubber ball and Eric Neujahr’s guitars shimmer into the sky as Cohen sings of virtue and passion and poison and guilt. As is often the case in Line & Circle songs, Cohen’s vocals juxtapose with the music to create a classically modern feel. “Who Runs Wild” rumbles at punk-rock pace, while “Progress & Pain”—a 45-second interlude of manipulated sounds and pulsing noise—is a cool interlude, but that’s all. On closing track “Mid Bloom,” however, Line & Circle again flashes their sky-high potential, packing the verses with restless bass lines, sparkling guitars and a memorable melody, then launching straight into jangle-pop-rock heaven on the chorus. It’s a glorious moment that recalls the splendor of “Roman Ruins” and ends Vicious Folly on a strong note. Line & Circle has another big breakout moment in them. Here’s hoping they find it.

—Ben Salmon