Label: Polydor Group Release date: 26/10/09 Website: Philadelphia’s psychedelic folk group Espers’ third album, titled simply III, not surprisingly is the follow-up to the band’s 2006 effort II and is the bands third studio album (excluding an album released in 2005 consisting of only covers). The band’s lack of creativity in album names sadly foreshadows the general feel of the entire album. Although beautiful for the most part the 10 song album seems almost monotonous as they reuse the same tricks nearly song by song. The album opens with “I Can’t See Clear”, an uplifting yet foreboding song featuring vocals similar to those that would be found on a Cranberries album. The song also gives a first taste of a fuzzed out guitar which occasionally lets out a prolonged riff over top of the acoustic finger picking. This guitar is found on the next track as well, playing a suspiciously similar riff. The same sound is on nearly every track, making the album drag on. Despite the album feeling like one 47 minute song, it has many redeeming qualities. III does a magnificent job of haunting the listener. A prime example can be found on the fifth track “That Which Darkly Thrives,” which features a droning riff carried out through the entire song, a chorus that lifts you up, only to be lifted higher by a crescendo leading you into a chilling chorus of “aaahs”. A similar track is “Meridian,” which features male and female harmonies that bring forth a beautifully unsettling feeling and a riff strangely reminiscent of an Iron Maiden song. The albums more calming and uplifting track “Another Moon Song,” can be found immediately after. The angelic lead vocals shine over the acoustic guitar, which repeats itself thoughout, and is accompanied by the occasional flange, a string section and a jarring solo. III can be difficult to actively listen to. There is very little in the album that catches a person’s attention and forces them to listen to it, however it is by no means bad or boring. It is a perfect candidate for background noise when attempting to read or other activities that require passive listening. The members of the band claim to have wanted to create a more upbeat song and admit to missing the mark. It’s a step in the right direction, taking their previous albums into consideration, but the album still has a tendency to bring a person down to ground zero, and possibly below. Rating: 7/10