CD Review of The Chaos in Order by Let’s Go Sailing

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The Chaos in Order
starstarstarstarno star Label: Yardley Pop/Fontanta
Released: 2007
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Let’s Go Sailing is a jangle pop group led by Shana Levy, who might be known to pop-loving hipsters as the keyboardist for Rilo Kiley. The Chaos in Order is pretty much a Shana Levy solo record. She wrote every song on it, and in addition to singing and playing keyboard, she also plays guitar on many of the tracks. Associating the word “Chaos” with anything on this record is a bit of a stretch, as Levy’s sedate, reflective voice and piano-driven melodies are about as chaotic as Federal Reserve meeting.

This is an album that one (okay, let’s be honest, your girlfriend) puts on after a long day at work so they can relax in a nice calming bubble bath. All 11 tracks on The Chaos in Order sound like they belong on the soundtrack to Zach Braff’s next self-hating hipster flick. Shana Levy’s childlike vocals are a melancholy delight, and her quiet singing on simple ballads like “Come Home Safely” and “All I Want From You Is Love” are touching and beautiful. Her voice bleeds honesty and emotion, reminding one of Neko Case (minus the tambourines).

While the ballads on The Chaos in Order are a joy, her more upbeat pop songs are also great, and serve as the album’s highlights. The standout is “Icicles,” a tune that is lovely in its simplicity. Imagine an emo song written by a third-grade girl that loves butterflies and you’ll know what kind of song this is. That’s certainly better than emo written by 18-year-olds who think girls will go down on them more often if they act sad.

On many songs Levy’s voice barely rises above a whisper; on songs like “It’s as Clear” she’s singing as if her lyrics are meant to be a secret to everyone except the most attentive listeners. Despite her sedative voice and predominance of slow songs, The Chaos in Order is not a depressing record. The feelings it brings up are more nostalgic or reflective than anything else. Strangely, it’s the most upbeat-sounding track on the album that turns out to be the most depressing: The deceptively cheery “We Get Along” tells the tale of a relationship on the rocks slowly collapsing because of unfinished arguments and lack of communication. Everyone thinks they're doing fine, though, because they can fake it as a happy couple in public.

The danger of music this sedate and quiet is that sometimes it just kind of disappears into the background. That doesn’t happen too much on The Chaos in Order because there’s enough variety to keep your interest, although some of the ballads, particularly “The Rope Is Long,” veer dangerously close to that territory.

Hardcore jangle pop fans (A.K.A. people I’m never going to hang out with) probably already own The Chaos in Order. This quiet and reflective music is quickly becoming the new go-to sound for alternative-rockers and hipsters settling down into a family. And while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s sure as hell better than mellow mainstream alternatives like James Blunt or John Mayer.

~James B. Eldred