SQUARES - Squares (Best Kept Secret)

Squares are a two-piece project from Philadelphia who play minimalist pop on acoustic guitar and organ. Normally this would be a recipe for a dirge-laden album which would be a trial to get through. However, there are two things which raise this seven tracker way, way above that, and they are that the singer has a reasonable voice, and secondly that the guitar is actually played, and not just strummed in the background. ‘The Deaf One’ opens with a low-key ballad which actually boasts a tune and a chorus, and even though ‘The Bering Strait’ is more experimental – with double tracked vocals counterpointing the melody – it is still easy on the ear. ‘Siebenundswanzig’ is a light guitar instrumental, closing side one in fine style. Side two is on the whole less successful, with the opening track ‘I Was Flung Upon The Ground’ utilising the strummed guitar backing which tends to bore very quickly, and ‘Oceans And Trees’ has a guest female vocalist who doesn’t really have the voice to carry off the song. ‘I’m A Biter Now’ redresses the balance somewhat, but one out of three is not enough to compete with side one, and so a not wholly successful release. Still, they do show great potential and so a band to watch out for.