‘Tuned In’ review: Subtle Snowden takes charge on ‘No One in Control’

Snowden's 'No One in Control'

Snowden's "No One in Control"

Those who listen to Snowden’s “No One in Control” are likely to develop a case of Stockholm syndrome. Whereas frontman Jordan Jeffares might initially take them hostage with his suffocating atmosphere created by layers and layers of textured sound, they might eventually develop empathy for him and willingly submit to his claustrophobic ambience and melodrama.

He doesn’t make it easy. Many songs are too long, reverberations and feedback are too domineering. But out of the blurry drones and muffled arrangements emerges a singer sorting it all out.

Jeffares — who moved his base from Atlanta to Austin, Texas, after Snowden’s 2006 release, “Anti-Anti” — is a shoegazer at heart, so be ready for ponderous musings and repetitions. Yet there’s ache in his sometimes-semi-deadpan vocals, and his beautiful melodies float like ghosts through the hypnotic convergence of electric vibrations, throbs and hums punctuated by the demonstrative beats of drummer Chandler Rentz.

Our apparitional narrator starts with his analysis on the epic and hazy opener/title track. No one in control? “That’s exactly why I like it.”

He then rides the rumbling rhythm of the propulsive “So Red” and shimmers in the embrace of “Anemone Arms.” His voice is especially central to highlight track “The Beat Comes” as Jeffares issues his lines in driving waves, ominous words such as, “There’s no way to go back now.”

The rich, repellent/attractive sound is part Goth, part zombie surf, part dreamy alt-rock. And in the case of Snowden’s cover of Love and Rockets “No Words No More,” it’s deferentially dark and minimalistic.

The gloom is subtly broken at the end, in the lullaby closer “This Year” where Jeffares offers, “If you want, I will take you/But we have to go now.” And maybe against their instincts and for reasons they can’t explain, listeners will want to take him up on it. Because “No One in Control” is literally captivating, and Jeffares the captor is plainly in control.

Rating: 4 stars (out of five)

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