A Tantalizing Taste: The Effie Afton’s New EP; Playing RIBCO on September 6 Print
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 03 September 2013 17:38

The Effie Afton

The defining characteristic of the self-titled EP from the Quad Cities band the Effie Afton is a pillowy softness – from the singing to the playing to the layer of gauze over the whole affair. Its four songs over 17 minutes are on the somnambulant side, even on the up-tempo “Great Divide” and the standout closing track, “Say Goodbye.” But in a sly trick, this vibe masks a striking evolution over the course of the EP.

The sleepy tone feels purposeful and has the effect of being brave – a way to strip the clothes off these indie-rock songs and make them sit there naked and exposed. That’s particularly true given the EP format, with no cover for any shortcomings.

The band – for the EP, singer/bassist/organist/guitarist Tim Smith, lead guitarist Benjamin Larson, and drummer Matt Toomey – looks good in that context. (They’re presently operating as a quartet, with bassist Derick Kapteina.)

The burden of each song is spread evenly among its elements. The insistent organ of opening track “This Gentle Breeze” is a secondary feature of the mix, but it’s fully responsible for the melancholy dreaminess. The lead guitar of “The Sound” serves a similar function, and in both songs, Smith’s voice is lulling.

Something darker is going on in “Great Divide,” with its lyrics obscured by the gentle aura: “Because I am just a monster / And you are so naïve. / You are just a piece of meat to me / To be tasted only once ... .” The song seems to be about different expectations for a hook-up, and it plays both sides – with the music bursting with hope and the words dripping with calculated cynicism.

The song hints at an increasing emotional complexity, and “Say Goodbye” does the same with the music. It retains the EP’s overriding translucence, but two styles of guitar – aggressively distorted fuzz back with the drums, behind a jazzy lead – simultaneously create and release tension. It’s a brilliantly simple juxtaposition that tantalizingly closes the recording – making me eager for a full-length.

The Effie Afton will perform on Friday, September 6, at RIBCO (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). The show is a video-release party for the Last Glimpse’s “Empty Rooms” and also features Jaiguru. The event starts at 9 p.m., and cover is $5.

For more information on the Effie Afton, visit TheEffieAfton.com.

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