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September 2, 2003

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If the Postal Service accomplished anything, it’s to promote the credibility of the unholy union between emo and electronica. The record gave indie rock’s closet Depeche Mode fans reason to celebrate (truly, does it get more emo than Depeche Mode’s “Somebody?”). The Postal Service’s Gibbard and Tamborello apparently deputized Denver Dalley, guitarist for Saddle Creek’s Desaparecidos, as his side project is replete with ’80s modern-rock references and detached melancholy. Statistics, the self-titled EP from Dalley’s generally one-man band, is an all too brief, but exceptionally promising, debut.

Statistics essentially links three proper tracks tastefully with two nicely structured instrumental pieces. The record occasionally sounds like Dalley’s other band, only more richly textured and with slightly less overzealous singing. “Another Day” opens, troublingly, like Tamborello’s Dntel. However, the opening electronic noodle quickly yields to live drums and a guitar figure reminiscent of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name.” In fact, the song’s direct lineage can be traced to the late-’80s anthems of U2 and the Psychedelic Furs. The track fades to radio static, a brief acoustic interlude and creepy minor-chords synths seemingly cribbed from Queen’s Flash Gordon soundtrack. The similarity of “Hours Seemed Like Days” to Smashing Pumpkins’ poppier moments must be grounds for excommunication from Conor Obert’s “cool kids” table. Regardless, the track’s sharp power pop is the perfect canvas for lyrics about simpler times. Statistics closes with “Cure Me,” the title an apparent admission of either theft or hero worship: The track sounds like a Disintegration-era Cure demo dressed up by Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore.

Instrumental interludes “(A Memory)” and “(A Flashback)” adequately serve the transitions in mood from track to track. Statistics accomplishes the greatest feat possible for a release of its type: It leaves the listener wanting more. Far too often, EP releases are a garbage dump of half-baked ideas and marginal performances. Statistics, the record and the band, is a calling card for a sharp, new talent.


Jeremy Walling