Reissue Review: The Format — Interventions + Lullabies

Reissues / Reviews / March 31, 2014

Reissue of dastardly duo’s debut boosted by great sound quality

Elektra Records

It’s been ten years since the release of The Format’s debut record, Interventions + Lullabies, and during this original run, Elektra Records was acquired by Warner Music Group. This merger caused the album, which showcases the supreme musicianship of Nate Ruess (fun.) and Sam Means (now going solo), to go drastically unnoticed by the label that supervised its production in the first place. While its follow-up, 2006’s Dog Problems, would further brand the group as a solid pop-rock outfit, ignoring the incredibly well-crafted dozen tracks on their first full-length would significantly undercut any acclaim the group’s work has gathered in a decade.

Ruess and Means cover all the bases here. There are trickles of sunny pop-rock on “The First Single” and “Tie the Rope.” The pair push through punked-out passages on “Sore Thumb.” More reserved fare adds to the album’s status as an interrupted highlight reel, with “On Your Porch” and “I’m Ready, I Am” serving as adequate preludes to the members’ current projects. With a 10th anniversary pressing (limited to 1,000 copies) selling out in hours and a black vinyl version (pressing info unknown) making its ways into crates, as well, it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who hears the album’s timeless appeal.

Sound Quality

Aside from a low current of surface noise flowing in at the beginning of each side, there’s no doubt that Means (the chief overseer of this reissue) took care to ensure a quality pressing. From the pummeling drums of “The First Single,” to the shimmering interwoven instrumentals on “Wait, Wait, Wait,” to the undervalued arrangements on “A Mess to Be Made” and “Career Day,” it appears that the album’s high degree of musical diversity is preserved in top form here. I would argue that the bass on this pressing only appears in landmark instances, and its overwhelming absence does slightly hollow out the listening experience.

Packaging

The album’s welcome conciseness is rewarded with a single gatefold package. It’s clear that the artwork was lifted directly from 2004, as one of the websites listed on the reverse side is no longer active. This isn’t problematic since it’s an “anniversary” edition that retains the context of the original release, but it’s something I noticed. Inside the gatefold, the left displays a grainy, black and white shot of the duo during a nondescript performance, and the right displays the album’s full lyrics. While I understand the choice to retain the handwritten font displayed more prominently elsewhere on the outer sleeve, displaying 12 lyric sets, album information, and a myriad of guest credits using the same script in a smaller size does raise concerns of legibility. However, the pressing’s stellar sound quality should make any listener aware of the words in no time.

Extras

The anniversary edition of the album was pressed on orange vinyl, was limited to 1,000 copies, and sold out fairly quickly. This version of the pressing was also available in an “ultimate bundle,” which also included the extravagant repress of Dog Problems, a die-cut 7″ of the unreleased song “Swans,” T-shirts displaying both full-lengths’ cover artwork, and because of the pressing delay of Dog Problems, an exclusive Bandcamp download of The Kenneth Room Sessions. In conjunction with pre-orders for the anniversary edition, a standard black version of the LP in a standard jacket was made available for the reduced price of $10. This version is still available, and given the pressing’s excellent sound quality and this variant’s affordability, is worth the pickup.

Summary

Aside from a few personal qualms in regards to sound quality and packaging, Interventions + Lullabies‘ first vinyl release is a quality one. If you even have a casual affinity for this band or any of the subsequent offshoots, give the $10 option of the pressing a chance. You’re in for a treat.

Make Sure To Spin

“The First Single,” “Tie the Rope,” “I’m Ready, I Am,” & “On Your Porch”

The standard sleeve, black vinyl version of “Interventions + Lullabies” is still available for purchase over at The Format’s webstore.


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James Cassar
James Cassar is Modern Vinyl's Managing News Editor and a co-host of The Modern Vinyl Podcast. He is also an artist manager, co-owner of the record label Near Mint, and can be found in bed before 9 p.m. James lives in Philadelphia and no, he won't check out your band if you add him on Facebook.






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