Although Early Day Miners aren't known for releasing the same album over and over again, the band's latest, The Treatment, still marks something of a departure from what fans have come to expect. The album, just out on the Secretly Canadian label, showcases some of the most pop-oriented songwriting in the band's shoegazey catalog, drawing as much from '80s pop as from '90s bands like Codeine and Low.
Headed up by songwriter and noted producer Daniel Burton, the Bloomington, Ind.-based band has been playing for about a decade, and released its first album on Western Vinyl in 2000. The group is largely Burton's vehicle; he's been backed up by a rotating supporting cast throughout its tenure.
Burton, who cut his teeth in the studio with legendary producer Daniel Lanois, has used some sizeable ensembles during his tenure with Early Day Miners. For The Treatment, the lineup was pared down to four pieces, abandoning the lush instrumentation but not the lush production of earlier records. Some of the exercises in obfuscation that took place on past EDM records (one was a single opus divided into six movements) are largely absent on The Treatment, but there's still plenty that keeps it from being a straight-up pop record. For example, after six-plus minutes, the track "Becloud" disintegrates into a Joan of Arc-style sound collage.
To be fair, the legs on which the poppiest moments of The Treatment stand are less than stable. The introductory track, "In the Fire," could be called the most straightforward of the bunch, but it still contains a wobbly dissonance, a plodding tempo and lyrics that almost betray an awkward attempt at pop simplicity: "We're going out tonight / Won't you join us? / No more regrets tonight / I've had enough."
The Treatment, in fact, has something of a musical trajectory -- from the early attempts at pop music, through the middle tracks that sprawl a bit more and recall previous Early Day Miners music, to the album's end with "Silver Oath," a simple folk-inspired song. On the way, Burton proves that, even on a pop record, he can't resist the call of nuance in songwriting and production -- and far from a crutch, it's a boon to his catalog.
Early Day Miners with Decibully and Horse or Cycle. 9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 25. Thunderbird Café, 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $8 ($10 at the door). 412-682-0177 or www.thunderbirdcafe.net