Record Review - 2 March 26 2003

Emotions is the debut of San Francisco-formed, Los Angeles-based alaska! — Imaad Wasif (the New Folk Implosion) and Russell Pollard (Sebadoh, the New Folk Implosion), joined live by drummer Lesley Ishino (Red Aunts). It's an album imbued with lustrous acoustics counterbalanced by the hushed weight of melodic latticework reminiscent of Lou Barlow and Elliott Smith (both with whom alaska! has either recorded or toured with). And much can be said by the topographical associations alaska! favors.

Like an indie aurora borealis, Emotions counterbalances warm, gently shifting radiants of lite folkish psychedelics with delicate vocal weavings. All is not serene in alaska!'s wilds, however. While the airy arrangements of songs such as "Broken" and "Rust and Cyanide" feature reflective acoustic downstrokes and chilly sweeps of strings, the guitars of "The Western Shore," "S.S./Candycane" and "Lost the Gold" breeze from crystalline to crunch on hooks with surgical sheen and abrasive edge. Emotions runs deep, from mulling to muscular, with a semi-developed tone of wistful earnestness. Both relaxed and rollicking, this alaska! is an evocative expanse.

Alaska! plays the Echo Lounge Wed., March 26.