steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Stairs

"Miraculous Happens" CD

Summer Is Loaded Music

Genres: indie pop, experimental pop

May 24 - 30 2004

As the press sheet stresses, this is a very busy album. The Stairs have put a lot of work into Miraculous Happens, packing it with countless layers of sound and dozens upon dozens of melodies and hooks. In many ways, this extensive sonic experiment is like The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. The band has added sitar, harmonica, choir, and even a high school marching band into the mix on this disc, which (understandably) took two years to create. And, while some of this release's best moments are its more minimal, there is certainly something to be said about the sheer amount of work and organization that went into the creation of these songs.

Listening to Miraculous Happens, it's abundantly clear that this disc is not going to appeal to everyone. It takes a serious indie pop lover to truly appreciate the type of eclectic, untraditional music The Stairs perform. Even a relatively unspectacular tune like "Queen of Mixed Signals" is drenched in multiple pop hooks and countless layers of sound - there's plenty of melody to enjoy, although the busy, jam-packed song structure can be overwhelming, and the tune does seem to go on a bit longer than it needs to (a common problem on this fifteen-track, seventy-four minute album). On the other end of the spectrum, we have "Quiet Girl," which the band itself proclaims to be "a soon to be discovered dance hall hit." It's a decent tune, drowning in electronic elements and a flourishing trumpet part; while it's far from 'dance hall' or 'hit' territory, it's got a nice, simple melody and could be worth a listen or two. Finally, in an entirely different vein, there is the finale - a simple, quiet lullaby entitled "Let Me Sleep," which is a successfully soft piece of pretty pop not far out of Low and Mojave 3 territory.

The Stairs' Miraculous Happens is a unique and pleasant disc, although it may be a bit crowded for some tastes. This is worth a try, just don't come into it expecting a homogenous, simple pop record; you'll surely be disappointed.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 15 tracks + 1 hidden, distributed by the band, released 2002]