The Gentlemen Losers - (2006)
For its inaugural release, the City Centre Offices subsidiary Büro introduced the Gentlemen Losers, a peaceful post-rock duo from Finland. Past the short walk-in "An Empire of Coins," one immediately thinks of Mogwai and Below the Sea — for the laid-back feel, the slight melancholia, and the medium durations — with a touch of Low's post-Morricone twang. All these elements are found in the first few tracks, "Gold Dust Afternoon" and "Slow Guitars" standing out as highlights (and the guitars are not the only slow instruments: piano, glockenspiel, and bassoon also crawl around in that particular piece). Further down the track list, the Kuukka brothers remind listeners of their Scandinavian roots; the pastoral hymn "Laureline" and the particular melodicism of "Light Fandango" evoke Bo Hansson and the duo Sagor & Swing. Samu Kuukka's keyboards and Ville Kuukka's acoustic and electric guitars are backed by beatboxes, real drums, and mallet percussion, all providing a diverse and changing sound palette. Even though the Gentlemen Losers' debut clearly operates within the limits of a specific style, it offers a lot to like, from seducing melodies to intelligent arrangements — and it is less bleak than most albums in that vein. A strong first effort from a group worth keeping an ear toward.