Following two relatively experimental albums, Conveyor break a two-year musical silence with a more simplified sound, proving less can definitely be more. Conveyor abandon their Animal Collective-aping sound for Ready Not Ready, instead returning to a core indie sound, with a twist of classic rock not heard as distinctively in the past.
The New York outfit’s subpar 2014 outing Prime was an hour-long film score without much context as to what is going on or why, mostly failing to keep the listener’s attention. The record brimmed with ambient, mostly wordless tracks, difficult to pin down without its film context. Ready Not Ready, on the other hand, offers a complete 180 in terms of listener enjoyment. Their 2012 debut self-titled album did a good job of that, but more than justified the Animal Collective-lite comparisons. This record has the opposite effect. Where Conveyor overcompensated with peculiar instrumental choices and vocal distortions, Ready Not Ready vies for simplicity. That’s true even structurally, as the album’s 11 tracks mostly fall just under a three-minute running time. The reflective lyrics lock into vague discussions of desire, thinly veiled analysis dressed in catchy summertime grooves.
Opener “What a Low Heart” is a promising sign that the band can use their trimmed list of tools for interesting results. The classic rock vibes are driven home by Beach Boys harmonies and lines driven by the changing season. “Summer is here/ Finally, finally,” they sing, the sunburn starting to set in. The brief “Girls I Care About” relies on the essential rock lineup, though uses those simple tools to great effect, alternating between rigid beats and instrumental outbursts.
In the middle of the album, “Second Side” finds its place as a sort of intermission. “I’m nervous about my second side/ Try as if I could to see beyond the parody of me,” they sing, with little more than simple guitar strumming. Even at the peak of their confidence, Conveyor take a moment to reflect on their insecurities.
The New Yorkers fall short on tracks like “Total Shown Heron”, which builds a splendid tower of instrumental layers, only to fizzle out in the end without a punchy climax. Similarly, “Tourette’s Reel” features a rather gratuitous, drawn-out repetition of the guitar riff, rather than building to anything meaningful. Instead, the song ends rather abruptly, leaving the listener wondering what happened to the ending. Whether fading away after too long or dropping off without a moment’s notice, Ready Not Ready too often lacks in organizational flow and narrative structure.
Overall, the album shows that Conveyor can completely redo their entire sound, and pull it off effectively. In a way, Ready Not Ready doesn’t even sound like the same band, Conveyor striking out towards a more original sound than the one that first gained them attention. Their evolution from just another psychedelic indie pop band to a sound that works for them was a bold one. While it’s not successful 100% of the time, Ready Not Ready shows that they’re more than capable of building towards something better.
Essential Tracks: “Girls I Care About”, “What a Low Heart”