True, familiarity may breed contempt, but in the case of the Chicago-based co-ed duo Project Film, familiarity is very much to the benefit of prime-mover Sam McAllister and his accomplice Megan Frestedt. Familiar in what regard you may ask? Let's just say I'm not the first music scribe to liken Project Film to the melancholic stride of Death Cab For Cutie, and furthermore, McAllister's tender timbre to that of Chris Walla. Coincidence or not, those comparisons are ultimately irrelevant, as Project Film's debut outing Chicago can stand on it's own merits, which are considerable. The affair commences with the shimmering piano and acoustic lament, "Minneapolis," which also happens to be the locale where both halves of Project Film formerly resided. Though it's passages evoke a sense of burnout on the part of the city itself, it's inhabitents, or both, the song's sonic template couldn't be more lucid and uncluttered, and ultimately the remainder of Chicago follows suit with a similar tact. On many compositions, the instruments glide into their respective slots one by one, gradually and unobtrusively, best exemplified by the aforementioned "Minneapolis" and "Motionless." McAllister's arrangements are subtle to a fault, with tempos and segues allotted more precisely than any metronome or measuring cup ever could.
Texture is germane to just about anywhere the needle drops on Chicago, and that semblance of texture is no more palpable and affirming than on the acoustic soliloquy "Kapture." It's hushed resignation bares a glimpse of silver lining, in a similar construct as Nick Drake's most affecting ballads. Elsewhere, "Art School" and "Cool Kids" flex some electrically endowed musculature with plenty of mid-fi aplomb and warm reverb. Chicago's longest selection is the six minute "Ink," a somewhat rambling instrumental that would flow better had it been reduced to a briefer intro/outro piece. In fact, with it's disparate demeanors, intonations and fluctuations, this record as a whole doesn't meld seamlessly from song to song, but instead operates as a malleable patchwork, hemmed together with a loose but pensive subtext that's more often than not hard to resist. Obtain a hard copy of Chicago here, and from iTunes or the usual online suspects.