Motion Picture Soundtrack – The Shapes We Fear Are Of Our Own

Release Date 01/03/2010 (Endgame Records) 

By Chris Oliver

“Every time I put this CD in my computer it makes a horrible noise”, is not the kindest way to start a review, but it’s true. I hope it’s only my promo copy of The Shapes We Fear Are of Our Own that’s dodgy and not the whole run. At least the disc is self-aware (in that it tells my computer the names of the tracks – I don’t think it feels pain or anything like that). This saves me the hassle of correcting spotty teenagers’ poorly-spelt entries on the RealPlayer database, which is much appreciated. It even tips me off that there’s a hidden track. Now maybe it’s just me being a pedant, but if you tell me it’s there, it’s not really hidden, is it? It reminds me of those massive neon signs that say “Secret Hideout”.

Motion Picture Soundtrack’s The Shapes We Fear Are Of Our Own [MPSTSWFAOOO] sounds massively over-produced throughout – which is not a surprise as the single ‘Glass Figures’ alone had no less than three top-class producers working on it. What’s that phrase about cooks again?

A few of the songs are pretty good, in a very unoriginal way: Mirrors is probably the best of a bad bunch, and The Strings That Tie To You is a minor departure from the rest and sounds quite like Coldplay. It probably would have been a better choice for a single than ‘Glass Figures’ – especially if the band wants to appeal to a mainstream audience.

MPSTSWFAOOO is pretty wistful, melancholy stuff and sounds like a poor imitation of bands I don’t really like very much – notably Dredg. The album also owes so much to Porcupine Tree that MPS should just be honest about it and change their name to ‘Hedgehog Bush’. My main gripe, though, is that although Motion Picture Soundtrack work hard to live up to their name, with haunting soundscapes full of strings, pianos and plenty of dynamic, the dynamic doesn’t extend to the vocals at all. Not one bit. Flat, lifeless, fruitlessly reaching, and desperately lacking any emotion or variety, they get same-y after about two songs, and actually painful by the end.

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