After making its debut on V2 with the self-produced Split Personalities (1998), this Minneapolis synth-pop outfit retreated to Hawaii to record Separation Anxieties (2000) with Todd Rundgren, a producer known for his mastery of studio detail. “Todd never really gave us answers,” the guitarist and keyboardist known as Ev says on the band’s Web site. “He simply presented issues to us and said, ‘OK, you solve it.’ That allowed us to make the record we wanted to and that sounds like us.” Of course, as anyone who’s written a test or a survey can tell you, the framing of a question automatically sets the parameters for possible answers, and Separation Anxieties has all the silky smoothness of your average Todd Rundgren project–remember, this is the guy who polished up the New York Dolls. He contributes the most here as an editor: on Split Personalities the band’s considerable melodic charms are often diluted over the course of the sprawling songs, but Separation Anxieties is tight as a drum, and the compression not only showcases the irresistible hooks of singer-songwriter Ryan Olcott but also checks his self-absorbed lyrics. Ev and Ryan are brothers, and both are confirmed music geeks: their father teaches jazz and classical music at Miami University, and they’ve studied formally at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory and DePaul respectively. As with Rundgren’s own elaborate songcraft, their cross-pollination of glam-rock and 80s dance-floor pop might strike you as almost clinical–if you weren’t so busy shaking your booty to it. Friday, April 6, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daniel Corrigan.