CD Review: Learning Team – Aporia Coda

In many ways, Aporia Coda is Learning Team’s attempt to spread their wings and leave the nest. Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle and mastered in Portland, the band has put on its Sunday’s best and is ready to present itself to the world.

The opening track, “Richmond,” is immediately likeable, and has a melody that channels a summer day float down a lazy river. Steady and strong yet somehow easygoing and gentle make for a wholly enjoyable track. Lead singer Emile Panerio shows off his vocal range too, hitting some notes as high as the cathedral he references in song.

Midway through the album comes “Pollen Part One,” which is written in a way that only a young person staring the real world in the face can write a song: brimming with youthful energy but simultaneously overflowing with apprehension. With only two lines of lyrics, the cello that comes in around the two-minute mark adds so much depth to the track that it almost steals the show. Learning Team is band that has mastered momentum in songs, and this track shows of the band’s ability to build and build upon a track until it snowballs into a full-fledged folk pop gem.

The highlight of the five song EP comes at “Pollen Part Two,” perhaps the album’s most bubbly track, recalling the delightful jitteriness of a Voxtrot track. The melancholy cello in the final track, “Coterie,” is worth noting as well. Ultimately though, there are many bright spots but it somehow doesn’t feel like enough.

It’s not so much that something is missing; in fact it’s all there, and maybe that’s what keeps Aporia Coda from being a great album instead of just a good album. It leaves the listener with no room to be surprised. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a band pushing itself either. It’s too steady, and it straddles a weird no man’s land between comfortable familiarity and trying something new – although not quite new enough. While they are noticeably stepping up their game in terms of production and audio engineering, in this case the band is all dressed up with no where to go.

–Kirsten O’Brien