by Devon McReynolds
Hailing from the foggy, eclectic hamlet of San Francisco, California, Film School creates a sound that is as mysterious and haunting as the city itself. While the band has garnered many comparisons—including Pink Floyd and the Who—they also incorporate aspects from metal, drone, and other experimental genres. The critical acclaim for Film School is already excellent. Spin said that they were "mentioned as one of the 'surprise' best acts of the 2004 SXSW music festival," and the CMJ New Music Monthly have praised the band as having "serious dibs on becoming leaders if Haight-Ashbury is ever to rise again." And that was after just listening tot heir 2003 four-song EP.
The intro track sets the mood for the rest of the band's self-titled debut on Beggars Banquet—also home to folk god Devendra Banhart and dancehall/hip hop goddess M.I.A.—with its sprawling distortion and hidden melodies. "On & On" is not a cover of the popular Jack Johnson song, but quite the opposite. The guitar chords are dark but clear, and Krayg Burton's voice is mournful—a cross between Interpol frontman Paul Banks and Robert Smith. But the Interpol similarities don't stop with the vocals. The album takes on the same gloomy post-punk melodies and chime-y sounds, but "Pitfalls" twists things around with echoes and wailing guitar. "Garrison" is a far stray from the rest of the album's sounds, an instrumental song with sweeping audioscapes, and then blends into the next song, "11:11," an upbeat, almost dance-rock track.
The only drawback to the songs on this album is their length. Several of the tracks clock in at over five minutes long, and with no real variety in the substance of each song, it is a bit drawn out. Film School is talented, though, and interesting enough to propel them to the status of being "The Next Big Thing" in indie rock very soon, as long as they keep appealing to music lovers with their creativity and clever construction of music.