With its self-titled debut album, The American Dollar proved one thing: it could write one hell of a single. "War on Christmas," the album’s opener, is one of the most engaging and transcendent songs written in the past couple of years, despite having running time of less than four minutes. However, this track proved to be a double edged sword, as it appears that the band used all of its talents in crafting it and left nothing for the following nine songs. When the release of the follow-up album, The Technicolour Sleep, was announced for early 2007, one could not help but wonder if the new album might go the way of the final nine tracks of the debut and fall under the shadow of the almighty "War on Christmas."
It is debatable whether or not the band itself recognized the disparity between "War on Christmas" and the rest of its debut, but regardless, all doubts are washed away within the first 3:12 of The Technicolour Sleep. "Rudiments of a Spiritual Life" blasts its way out of the speakers, effectively instilling hope that this album will live up to the band's initial potential. The overall feeling of The Technicolour Sleep has not changed much from the self-titled debut as The American Dollar still employ a shoegaze/electronica sound along the lines of M83 or Logh, but the emotion and grandeur of the entire album rivals that of the aforementioned "War on Christmas." As a cohesive work of art, this is one of the most skillfully executed albums in recent memory. From the clicks and whirs that freckle the façade of the softer ambient moments to the build-up of tension before the cathartic release, every second of this album has been meticulously crafted to remedy the mistake of the debut.
Another improvement over the predecessor is the proficiency in drumming which raises the enjoyment of the album exponentially. Ambient and electronica artists sometimes have the tendency to give their arrangements too much free reign and as a result may sound too whimsical or airy. With the fantastic drumming on The Technicolour Sleep, The American Dollar avoid this problem and keep the arrangements grounded in reality. There is a marked upbeat quality to this album that was not evident in the self-titled, and the drumming really adds to that quality. Whereas there weren’t many stand-out tracks on the debut outside of "War on Christmas," it is hard to pick a stand-out on The Technicolour Sleep only because each track brings a new element or sound to the album that is invaluable to the mood and feeling.
It is rare that I can say with a good amount of confidence that an album released this early will likely be one of my top albums of the year, but it is going to take several extraordinary albums to devalue The Technicolour Sleep. It was a shame that these guys weren’t signed to a label after the release of their debut album, but it would be an absolute tragedy if they didn’t get label attention after this magnificent creation.
- Dan Wotherspoon