Morose Margot

Margot and the Nuclear So and SoâÄôs ALBUM: âÄúAnimal!âÄù and âÄúNot AnimalâÄù LABEL: Sony BMG Margot and the Nuclear So and SoâÄôs âÄúAnimal!âÄù and its separately released companion âÄúNot AnimalâÄù sound like your first big freshman-year heartbreak. You know, whispery and melancholy with a splash of whine, but not quite as âÄúemoâÄùtional as your high school breakups, shake-ups and make-ups were. âÄúAnimal!âÄù sounds like the hours you spent in your extra-long twin in Territorial Hall, mourning the loss of your really intense two-month relationship with the girl down the hall. Indianapolis octet (seven guys, one girl) Margot and the Nuclear So and SoâÄôs have created that two-part dose of medicine as a reaction to their recent signing to major label Sony BMG; they had to create a record that would sell, but the band also wanted to craft one that would live up to their kaleidoscopic art-rock reputation. âÄúAnimal!âÄù and âÄúNot AnimalâÄù are comprised of differing renditions of many of the same downhearted songs; the band claims they recorded more than 200 during their sessions. Good thing? Not really, because the re-imaginings sound so similar that by the time youâÄôve listened to both albums, youâÄôre sound asleep, awash in your own depressed haze. ThatâÄôs why you must refrain from listening to âÄúAnimal!âÄù and âÄúNot AnimalâÄù in tandem; all that hush-hush moaning about girls named Sarah and Amy and Jen sounds like eavesdropping on nights at the frat house, when the brew-slugging brothers of Sigma Lambda Alpha Whatever have had a few too many rum and Cokes and start philosophizing about the ones that got away. But the big issue with âÄúAnimal!âÄù and âÄúNot AnimalâÄù is that theyâÄôre boring, plain and simple. Frontman Richard EdwardâÄôs reed-thin voice grates on the nerves in its pallid imitation of RadioheadâÄôs Thom Yorke . HeâÄôs got the ability to convey all his pain in just a few notes, and while this is all well and good for two or three songs, after a chunk of 24, itâÄôs tiring indeed. This eight-piece collective aspires to be as musically diverse as its peers Broken Social Scene, with songs utilizing pianos, violins and a mixed bag of instrumental varieties. They do manage to create a few really quietly pretty songs, like the folksy guitar-strummer âÄúBroadripple is BurningâÄù and the slightly ominous IâÄôm-going-to-kill-my-girlfriend âÄúMy Baby (Shoots Her Mouth Off).âÄù The single âÄúAs Tall as CliffsâÄù sounds like an outtake from their debut record, âÄúThe Dust of Retreat,âÄù and its harmonicas and tambourines are much more satisfying than the drone of its counterparts. But the majority of âÄúAnimal!âÄù and âÄúNot AnimalâÄôsâÄù offerings leave a tiny niggling something to be desired. The band canâÄôt always rise from the murky depths of their bogged-down carnival of songs. Sometimes they get caught up in trying to match lyrics with their musical prowess. Margot and the Nuclear So and SoâÄôs never reach the sensations felt by âÄúThe Dust of Retreat,âÄù nor do they create anything as memorable. Of the two albums, âÄúAnimal!âÄù deserves more praise as a body of work than the unsteady âÄúNot Animal.âÄù Perhaps releasing two albums of the same material wasnâÄôt such a wise way to stick it to the proverbial âÄúman,âÄù Margot.