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Departing

The Rural Alberta Advantage
SADDLE CREEK

There’s a sneaking suspicion throughout Departing that the record is shallow: It’s the kind of album critics typically describe as “pleasant.” Nils Edenloff’s deliberate acoustic guitar dominates, lending a sleepy air that largely neuters Paul Banwatt’s propulsive drumming. Edenloff’s grainy bleat is effective in small doses but grates over time, while Amy Cole’s sugary harmonies are vastly underused. Departing opens promisingly with the plaintive if creepy “Two Lovers” and “The Breakup,” but the other songs often plod along (“Good Night”), unfold with treacly predictability (“Coldest Days”) or are simply unmemorable. “Tornado ’87” illustrates the album’s shortcomings perfectly: A braying chorus that indulges Edenloff’s worst tendencies offsets the song’s otherwise brisk, likable verses. Unraveling Departing means spending long stretches with threadbare melodies that may or may not grab your attention; repeat listens reveal a modest handful of semi-precious gems.