200 Years' Surprisingly Bland Folk-Pop Opus
1/2 (out of 5)
Let me be clear: 200 Years is a perfectly pleasant album. Ten songs; 40 minutes; tender, plangent acoustic guitars; mellifluous vocals; heartfelt, artful lyrics; contemplative melodies; tasteful harmonium murmurs—there's a lot to enjoy here, albeit only mildly. And that's the problem: One expects more from 200 Years members Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance). Ambrogio has been responsible for some of the '00s' most bracing noise rock. Chasny's authored some of the last decade's most emotionally harrowing and sonically adventurous folkadelia. So expectations for this project among the duo's hardcore fans are predictably sky-high. But 200 Years is Secretly Canadianzak™, pensive folk pop shorn of all thorniness. It's kind of baffling why Chasny has neutered his typically fierce electric-guitar explorations. Maybe this album could be viewed in the same light as Thurston Moore's Demolished Thoughts—a surprising tangent into straight-world accessibility and trad-formal songcraft that hardly anybody could see coming. That would be the charitable interpretation. The jaded cynic in me just misses Ambrogio and Chasny's usual journeys into more extreme and interesting terrain.