Michael Nestor and Frank Corl (ex. Seldon Plan), the core duo of Underlined Passages, are continuing a journey. Lead singer Michael Nestor’s Plan, proceeded to evolve in this relatively overlooked corner of Baltimore’s indie scene, maturing and fine-tuning their craft through 2011 (around when Corl joined on drums). Somewhere along the way, instead of continuing in the straight indie rock tradition, they drifted towards a more pop-infused sound. Now, akin to relaxed and confident later era Ted Leo or newer Copeland, Underlined Passages find that Nestor and Corl have staked their claim squarely in indie pop territory and they couldn’t be happier.
Nowadays you rarely see an album you can listen to straight through and afterwards want to listen to it again. An album that combines thought-provoking, beautiful, memorable lyrics with real music created on instruments that flow perfectly in a cycle.
Every song in this collection proves to be rewarding and fits perfectly alongside each other. This is one of those albums that make you an instant fan. You gain a quick respect for what Underlined Passages is trying to do. You breathe every note in with them, like it’s your own story.
Sonically the self-titled Underlined Passages album is a very interesting one. The vocals can be understood, while jangly guitars pop out with innovative production tones. The songs can create a quiet emotional feeling that unleashes when the harder parts kick in; each having a dark quality that comes across as deeply poetic.
The melodies have their own rhythmical and unique style, setting the vocal approach into its own category. The lyrics, which can be heard easily, cause the listener deep thought and introspection, and can also be related to; they are not too abstract.
In a world where tuneless garbage constantly floats across the airways, telling us things we never need to know about, songs like “The Perspective”, “Hope Springs”, “ Underlined Passages From Your Books”, “Magic Logic Life” and “It’s Ok”, are able to fully restore our faith in intelligent pop music. Every instrument and voice is painstakingly perfect, in pitch, in place, melodic and moving. Overall, the artistic quality in each track will make it impossible for you to push ‘next’ on your player.
Musically, the album really holds together without becoming stagnant in similarity. The lyrics are like narratives – stories laced with bittersweet memories and quiet musings. The beautiful harmonies, the falsetto interludes, the little creative intricacies within the music….all make “Underlined Passages”, without a doubt, one of my favorite new albums.
Without any glossy over-production, stuffed-to-the-bridge-and-back musical arrangements or mega-theatrical performances, Michael Nestor and Frank Corl put on as fine a spectacle of musicianship as one could possibly hope for, from any new band!
Honestly if I could, I would give 6 stars to this album! Do yourself a favor and get a copy of the self-titled Underlined Passages album, out through Mint 400 Records the 14th of April – you won’t regret it!