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The Long Dream of Birds

Common Loon
HIDDEN AGENDA/PARASOL

The Long Dream of Birds’ more focused moments feel like buoys in an ocean of pretty but directionless atmospherics. These moments of clarity are excellent but all too fleeting — particularly “Ho-Hum Apocalypse,” which sports an engrossing mix of churning guitars and dexterous melodies, but unfortunately is in and out in 80 seconds. On “A Prayer for Hemophilia,” the album’s dichotomy is illustrated within the same track, as the song’s unmoored first half contrasts sharply with its sighing, Elliott Smith-like coda. As long as the band avoids the hoary lyrical clichés of “Outside” (if you can believe it, the song’s narrator isn’t just “on the outside” — he’s also “looking in”) and highlights their more melodically sturdy influences (such as the hints of XTC creeping into the carnivalesque “Dinosaur vs. Early Man”), Common Loon should find their footing in no time.