I remember driving down the 405 on my first trip to Los Angeles two years ago. I thought I'd get off the plane, get in a convertible, drive down the highway to a mansion in Malibu, eat a great meal by the pool, and then take a walk down to the beach where I'd be greeted by gorgeous women playing Frisbee or surfing. Well, it was somewhat true. It involved a lot of traffic, smog, and a magical place that the kids on the West Coast called "In 'N Out Burger." The best part of the first two hours of my first visit to Los Angeles was not the coffee I spilled on my friend Heidi's white dress. It was hearing Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse's voice for the first time. He was creepy and beautiful and sounded like he was whispering in my ear. The music sounded like it was playing in my head and not on the car speakers. I loved Sparklehorse, but because it scared me. Since then, I have always wanted to hear a Sparklehorse-sounding band that had that same whisper effect on me, but didn't put me in the psychological funk that Linkous had to power to do.
Enter the LA band Bedroom Walls. Adam Goldman, the band's lead singer, sounds similar to Linkous. The band describes their sound as "Romanticore" and their sophomore album, All Good Dreamers Pass This Way, is a grand orchestral whisper that will live in your head, not in your speakers.
There are many bands that overuse such non-imperative instruments like xylophones, hand-claps, and cellos. This is not one of those bands. The horn stabs, the twinkling of the xylophones, and the crispness of the cello all seem as natural as if the songs were written around the small details instead of vice versa. The album changes from the Big Star of "Who's Been Driving Round For Days" to the Bach/"Street Hassle" intro of "Somewhere In Newhall" to the Simon and Garfunkel intimacy of "If The Storm Breaks And You're At Home."
The songwriting lags a little bit in the middle of this album, but it stays strong enough as to not lose the attention of the listener. There is enough classically infused string parts and twists and turns throughout All Good Dreamers Pass This Way to make you almost more interested in where the song is going and not where it's been. This album instantly reminded me of my fear and obsession with Sparklehorse and for that I admire it. Although now that I've heard it, I know that the essence of having that kind of voice only works under evil. The pop-infused "plays in your head, not in your speakers" aesthetic that I longed for might not be what I was looking for after all.