Aveo is a band that doesn’t know quite who it wants to be. At times, it shares the quiet adolescent misery of bands like Belle and Sebastian, and at other times, it takes on the acoustic charms of bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket. Aveo tries to emulate its influences without understanding what makes these other bands work and it is lost in this slight identity crisis as it tries to cover all the bases without every subscribing to one. In the end, the meaning in its music is somewhat lost.
Although Bridge to the Northern Lights is a remarkably easy listen, filling in silence with very pleasant sound, it’s seldom more than background music and isn’t terribly noteworthy. Even played at a loud volume and despite the bouncy percussion and the pulse of electric guitars, this music has this sense of quietness about it. Aveo isn’t trying to be a loud band, but merely an agreeable one. It cannot be faulted for that, but Aveo does little more than just be a pleasing little band, not wanting to offend or alienated anyone.
This is Aveo’s problem. Their music lacks direction and passion and meanders along saying and doing little. Songs like “Tomorrow Today” ramble into “Collapsing Plateaus” without any differentiation and there’s this sense that Bridge to the Northern Lights was only half thought through before it was recorded — the press release does make a big deal of the fact that the recording of this album only took seven days, as if that was a good thing. Aveo doesn’t quite seem to have a rationale or defined artistic goals and, as such, Bridge to the Northern Lights is unfocused and unsatisfying.
The half-mumbled vocals of William Wilson tend to sink into his bandmates’ instruments, and the lyrics are mostly indistinguishable. A word or two can be caught every now and then, but that is only if you choose to pay close attention. The CD liner notes provide no clues, containing a strange story instead. If Aveo’s songs possessed any other distinctive characteristics in term of music or vocals, maybe caring about what it is singing about would be easier. But as it is, Aveo’s music isn’t exciting enough to bring about any emotional or intellectual investment from listeners.
Aveo wants to capture hearts and minds, but this inadequately constructed album does not do so. Bridge to the Northern Lights is forgettable during its best moments, regrettably boring at its worst. It leaves nothing behind, and Aveo may want to be as sensitive and as thoughtful as its predecessors, but in the end, it is little more than just another band with just another CD.