Anand Wilder & Maxwell Kardon: Break Line the Musical (Secretly Canadian) - Album Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019  

Anand Wilder & Maxwell Kardon

Break Line the Musical

Secretly Canadian

Aug 20, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The inspired duo behind Break Line the Musical should not be maligned for their ambition. There's nothing inherently wrong with rock operas, psych-inspired musicals, or odes to the difficulty of interracial relationships in conservative Pennsylvania coal mining towns (actually, the last thing is pretty cool). Still, in the several years that it took Yeasayer's Anand Wilder and collaborator Maxwell Kardon to flesh out this work, one would think that they'd have developed a little bit of conceptual self-awareness.

Now, musicals are necessarily like this—grandiose, near-histrionic, and not all that concerned with subtlety. Even when controlling for these tendencies, however, Break Line the Musical is still too twee for its own good. The collection of talent on all these tracks (including members of Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend, and others) ends up feeling more like checked boxes than any compendium of necessary talent. Break Line's sonic signature—traversing folk and bluegrass as reimagined through psychedelic lenses—similarly falls flat, as otherwise strong instrumentals manifest more as tired musical tropes than anything particularly fresh or interesting.

Still, this is perhaps the point—for those of us who wear out our favorite albums to look for new things in every spin, musicals are blunt affairs that don't merit much attention past the first listen. Evaluating Break Line on its own merits, Wilder's compositional talents and unique ear for instantaneously gratifying hooks is evident, and talents honed throughout his time in Yeasayer are put to decent use here (his own fragile singing voice takes the lead on standout minimalist track "Wedding Day"). But given the roads that he and his cohorts rode to their relative stardom, one can't help but scrutinize this work more closely. There are perhaps seeds of something strong here, but only time will tell. (www.secretlycanadian.com)

Author rating: 3.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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