Singer and guitarist Eric Ketzer, formerly of EKe and Whiskey Daydream, helms So Much Closer. His latest project sets aside the electro-experimentalism and updated Americana of his earlier projects in favor of moody, ponderous modern rock — a sound that leaves many tracks sounding sodden and overwrought. Felt Not Seen has a few nice flourishes — in particular, the bright bells and ambient synths on the bridge of "Generations" help stitch together the flangered guitar and busy drumming. The untitled fourth track hits the best balance of roiling guitars and driving rhythmic undercurrent; the band nails the tension and force that it shoots for on the rest of the record. Seen's shortcomings are less an issue with the band's individual talents and more a problem of proportions. Whenever you pair an overly active drummer with rhythm guitarists who attempt to find the groove with the aid of cheap effects pedals, you end up with something that sounds like minor-key 311. And that's a bad thing.
Part of the issue with Seen is its production. The album sounds like the band plugged a microphone directly into a hard drive, resulting in an aural sterility that deadens the effect of many tracks. So Much Closer could use a stern editor as well: Not one of these tracks is under four minutes, and most overstay their welcome without advancing any new ideas or interesting lyrics. Even a key change would be a welcome twist. (The less said about the seventeen-minute closing track the better.) Ketzer has a voice that relies heavily on rock-dude growling, but it is fairly well suited for balladry, and therefore So Much Closer never moves outside of this comfort zone. "Unfulfilled Desires" gets close, with a trumpet melody line and a pulse that grants the band a little traction, but at the end of a disc that is overwhelmingly indistinct from one song to the next, it's a case of too little, too late. — Christian Schaeffer
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