Entertainment Weekly (p.135) - "[An] understated, folky third album, in which heartache and hopelessness never seemed so enticing." -- Grade: A-
Magnet (p.88) - "[B]oozy ballads such as 'The Cold Acre' and 'Victoria's Secret' never break their graceful gait."
Despite being a reasonably solid effort, Augie March's third full-length, Moo, You Bloody Choir, likely won't do anything that the much-superior Strange Bird didn't do to expose the group to a larger fan base four years prior. This isn't an entirely surprising outcome, however; though many promising elements shine through the Australian outfit's mid-tempo dream pop -- leader Glenn Richards' excellent craftsmanship, striking lyrics and pretty, well-molded vocal work and harmonization, to name a few -- ultimately the group gets bogged down by the very things that initially make them so pleasant. Their too-smooth, incredibly homogenous sonic textures relegate half the album to almost nondescript blather, which largely lacks a distinctive spark. The soft and downy instrumentation is the most significant culprit; the wash of piano and strummed, reverb-drenched electric guitar quickly wears thin, and is broken only on the big-band novelty opening of "The Honey Month" and on a handful of other songs. That said, the group still manages to reach a fair number of peaks, which provide reason enough to not ignore the album entirely. The strong first three tracks are starkly pretty, lilting songs in the passionate vein of Jeff Buckley's more subdued, romantic work, utilizing some subtle dissonances and a very satisfying harmonic balance, particularly on the circular flow of the opener, "One Crowded Hour." It's also hard to argue with such evocative imagery as "But for one crowded hour, you were the only one in the room/ I sailed around all those bumps in the night to your beacon in the gloom." Unfortunately, by the time "Stranger Strange" rolls around, the plaintive mood settles into repetition and listeners' attention spans are likely to wander for several tracks. Things certainly pick up with the much-needed kick of the rocker "Just Passing Through," which leaves in its wake several of the album's more alluring tracks as the mood settles back into subdued melancholia. Richards evokes another of indie rock's more romantic figures -- Ryan Adams -- on "Bottle Boy," where his voice achieves an expressive interplay with the guitar and background harmonization that is somehow lacking in much that precedes or follows. Moo, You Bloody Choir picks up once again for the last time on the lengthy simmer of "Clockwork," where Richards sings "Oh singer, I don't believe your song, or your lying lines." While that's far from the case with the singer's own fine lyrical poeticism, it's hard not to take most everything else about this album as anything more than for granted. ~ Ben Peterson