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June 17, 2004

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Having previously existed in the shadows of Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and consequently been deemed just another player in emo's most fertile heartland — Omaha, Nebraska's Saddle Creek Records — it's no wonder Statistics frontman and multi-instrumentalist Denver Dalley felt slight pressure while making the band's debut album, Leave Your Name. "The songs are all done/ And as they go down on tape/ The critics click their pens," Dalley speaks-sings up close and languidly on opener "Sing a Song," cutting to the chase right off the bat. Statistics are ready to be labeled — they just want to beat you to it. The song then bursts into a wall of noise built on screaming synth effects, bludgeoning beats and plunging electrified riffs, killing any notions that this would be just another quiet, whiney emo record. "Please don't pout or sing of love, it's all been done," Dalley — who also plays in Bright Eyes side project Desaparecidos — continues later on "Sing a Song," as if repeating the nagging voices in his head. He doesn't need to be reminded; he already knows, having invented a loud and severely impassioned polished rock sound of his own, and Leave Your Name plain proves it. The 11-track album delivers sad moments woven around heart-tugging piano and fragile singing ("2 A.M."), dark, spine-tingling instrumentals made of mighty, spiraling riffs, gritty effects and threatening drums ("Mr. Nathan") and high-energy romps led by reverb-drenched vocals and beautifully layered arrangements ("Hours Seemed Like Days"). While name-dropping is always helpful when looking for media attention, Leave Your Name suggests just what it says — with a wonderful sound like theirs, a name is beside the point; leave it behind.


Jenny Tatone