• The Advantage
  • 5 Rue Christine
  • 2006-01-17

When I first heard The Advantage it put me in one of the greatest moods ever and I couldn’t help but listen to it non-stop for a couple of weeks with the biggest grin on — their self-titled debut album is one hell of a good-time soundtrack — but the fun does not stop there — they’re back with a new record and this time its got a better name! The Advantage have set it their mission to record every Nintendo game theme and on their first record they offered 26 pieces — with various levels/stages and start/end music from 20 different games. This time around the album is shorter, only 16 tracks, but it’s just as good, if not better.

The band is made up Ben Milner, Robby Moncrief, Spencer Seim and Carson McWhirter — the latter pair being familiar faces from Hella and Crime In Choir respectively — and as you could easily imagine using those reference points although the music starts off as 80s electronic computer-game music it ends up sounding like indie/math-rock. But somehow it still sounds incredibly similar to the originals — which seems mostly gained by the punchy drum work, clean tones and tight picking — and with only very minimal electronic input, although slightly more than on the first album.

The songs on Elf-Titled may not be quite so recognisable as those on the band’s debut, but then many of those were lost on most of us anyway, and to that majority it makes no difference — it only makes it that extra bit special for the Nintendo die-hards, who will indeed die happy after this and any more Advantage releases.

Overall it’s just great, and I can’t praise this album much more.

“Batman – Stage 1” stands out right at the start as one of the best tracks on the album, not that any of them are poor, but it offers classic example of the amazing sound and mood that the band create and it’s one of the most rocking and upbeat of the selection — an instant hit. “Contra” is recognisable from the first record, this time taking in more of the games music though offering us the “Alien’s Lair” befre the more familiar “Boss Music”. Another one of the band’s obvious favourite games is “Castlevania 3” which appears again but this time its the “Boss Music” — which offers a solid rock intro before some joureying through various moods and tempos of interplaying melodics, typical of many of the tracks. “Metroid – Kraid’s Lair” is one of the slower pieces on the album, but Elf-Titled is generally quite frenetic throughout, at least more so than its predecessor. The Advantage seem to have gone for a bit more humour and experimentation on this record too as the end of “Double Dragon 2 – Mission 5: Forest Of Death” shows, and on “Wizards and Warriors – Tree Trunk, Woods, Victory” the band even do a bit of singing. “Ducktails – Moon” shows just how uplifting and relentlessly happy this album can be and “Solar Jetman – Braveheart Level” offers classic example of some of the ultimate hero moments that the album offers, as well as very technically able playing — see “Guardian Legend – Corridor” and in fact pretty much all of the tracks here to hear this.

Overall it’s just great, and I can’t praise this album much more. Sure the concepts a bit limited and the music could be termed so too because of that but they’ve played around a bit more on this second record and its just a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. Fans of indie/math/prog/rock/whatever plus Nintendo fans and just anyone looking to listen to something which is very clever, incredibly competent, very uplifting and very enjoyable should defintely give this band a listen.

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