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Page France and the Family Telephone

Date May 9, 2007

While I was instantly hooked by Hello, Dear Wind, Page France’s newest album took me a little time to warm up to. …and the Family Telephone is just as catchy but in a bizarre kind of way and not like the simple, immediate tunes of the previous album. Now that I’ve had it for a few weeks though, I can easily see it as another indie pop masterpiece. The instrumentation here is improved (the days where an acoustic guitar and bells will do the trick have gone), now we’re getting piano, synths, trumpets, and glockenspiels which all add to the warm sunshiney sound that exhibits all the qualities of a spring day. Whitney McGraw’s harmonies are used much more and that’s definitely a good thing.

Honestly, the Christian symbolism is one of the things I liked about Hello, Dear Wind and at first listen it seemed that the pressure had gotten to the band and they dropped that aspect. Now, after closer examination, I can see that it’s there, it’s just not as blatant (which is for the better I suppose). Wheareas, in “Chariot”, Nau was looking forward to the Rapture it seems now that at least some of the songs focus on the past, as in Garden of Eden. As the story goes, Adam and Eve live in a garden with a bunch of animals and then they eat an apple they’re not suppose to, lie about it, and this brings sin into the world. On the album, the story is referenced to highlight Nau’s own imperfections (often referred to as being “crooked”) as well as how bad habits are passed down the family tree (see “Belly in the Fish”).

The story is brought to it’s fullest light on the song Mr. Violin and Dancing Bear which happens to be my favorite on the album. The song starts off which a free-spirited, joyful protagonist who laughs and plays with a violin and a dancing bear (“I was sore from all the laughing”), but hints that the fun might not last. Eventually the character, realizes that he has a crooked tooth that keeps his lips from truth which makes him even crooked-er. As the song picks up to an over-exuberant bounce, Nau relates this to himself with the chorus, ” But the rings in-between the old family tree / Are crooked for you as they are crooked for me / You get what you get when you bite from the tree / A crooked-er you and a crooked-er me”.

Much of the album seems like Nau is taking the opportunity to take the halo off his head, in Ruby Ring Man he states he would “kiss the devil’s cheek to get this halo off of me” obviously trying to get away from the good Christian boy stereotype. I say don’t be so hard on yourself, as you make so clear on the album, nobody’s perfect.

MP3 Mr. Violin and Dancing Bear
MP3 Here’s a Telephone

Eric from marathonpacks has a great review up of this album via Pitchfork (7.5)
Go to Suicide Squeeze and get the album!


3 Responses to “Page France and the Family Telephone”

  1. Anonymous said:

    This new record is so pretty


  2. Brushwood said:

    Mr. Violin is very much awesomeness.

  3. Caleb said:

    I kinda feel like there is something missing from the album as a whole….that’s kind of how I feel about Page France in general though, I like some songs, and they were pretty good live when I saw them with Anathallo last year, but I could never get to into them…I guess I’m not cool enough.