There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The true plight of sensitive-white-guy musicians must be the polarity of the responses they evoke. Sometimes, we the listeners immediately serve up our broken, murmuring hearts on a silver platter. Then there are times when we roll our eyes at the burgeoning sentiment, pin “Kick me” signs on their backs, and send them on their mopey ways. Trembling Blue Stars’ latest album, Broken by Whispers, manages to elicit both responses. The second track, “She Just Couldn’t Stay,” is well-crafted and initially charming, but band mastermind Bob Wratten eventually betrays us with a lame chorus about being “in love with a ghost.” Wratten washes over his occasional mediocrity with generous amounts of reverb and a British shoegazey tenderness, studio flourishes that fantastically apologize for most of the self-indulgences. But not all of Wratten’s sonic surprises succeed at making amends: The syncopated synth percussion on “To Leave It Now” (which echoes David Gray’s recent turd-warm hit, “Babylon”) proves once again that the percolator can’t always bail out singer-songwriters. And though there are missteps on Broken by Whispers, in the end, Trembling Blue Stars succeed because of them: Wratten screws up just like any other normal human being, and who wants to commiserate with a genius? Trembling Blue Stars play with the Ocean Blue, Barcelona, and Secret History at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18, at the Metro Cafe, 1522 14th St. NW. $12. (202) 588-9118. (Chris Richards)