Emily Keefauver and Matt Stuttler began playing together in the small but musically fertile community at Greenville College in Illinois. The pair moved to St. Louis and began playing as the Kerouacs a few years ago but chose a more phonetic spelling for their next Beat Generation band name. (Is the extra "s" in Burrowss for "William S."? We may never know.) For Don't Take It Slow, Burrowss tries on a host of rock & roll styles without settling on a single sound, which makes the record sound alternately adventurous and bipolar.
Vocalist and keyboardist Keefauver comes out sneering on opening track "Cut Your Film," giving the song a garage-rock edge that it will circle back to occasionally. But the faux lo-fi crackle and buzz that gives the first track a four-track-demo urgency gets shellacked to a pop sheen on the next song, the title track. With a bouncy guitar/synth riff and a thudding beat, the band cribs a little of Sleigh Bells' danceable riffsmanship and builds some tension with Stuttler's dirty guitar and Keefauver's neon-lit vocals. It's a compelling pairing of sounds, but that trajectory gets interrupted on just about every other song: "All I Wanna Do" brings some bratty lyrics and more quick shredding to the mix, but the song is bookended by the hokey, fiddle-aided folk pastiche "Dirt" and the hook-heavy "Seems So Simple," a song that finds the singer engaging in some catchy, twee vocal gymnastics. The song is proof that the band can burrow an earworm in your head when it really wants to.
And while this kind of musical hop-scotch shows admirable range and inventiveness given rather limited palette, it makes it hard to hear what Burrowss really sounds like. Keefauver's voice is strong and clear but lacks a distinct personality on too many of these songs. As the nine-song program draws to a close, songs like "Lover" and "Heavy" show some attachment to the words as well as some promise that, together, Stuttler and Keefauver can convey the depth in their songs that gets skirted a little too often on Don't Take It Slow.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail [email protected] for more information.