With a name like Airiel and an opening track called "Introduction" that sounds like three and a half minutes of Spiritualized getting lazy, my negative preconception machine started running into the overheated zone in the first moments of listening to this album. But I had to kick my preconception machine in its ass when the second song came on. "Thinktank" is high-energy, straight-up, layers and layers and layers of sound guitar pop in the mode of early Sloan, but just a tad prettier. "Thrown Idols" is more of the same. With "Sugar Crystals" things turn to ethereal synthesizer and drum machine and layered vocal harmonies. It's back to guitarland for the slower-tempo "You Kids Should Know Better", and the Spiritualized comparison starts to make a little more sense. The textured layers of guitars tend to just bog things down when bands lower the beats per minute to midrange, and there's no exception with Airiel. So here's a new rule for rock stars everywhere: keep it real fast or real slow, because if your tempo is in the middle you start sounding like an Englishman circa 1989, whether it's Jason Pierce or Ian Brown. And eight minutes of dirge doesn't edify any of us, really. With "Stay" they prove themselves adept at integrating string arrangements, and I start to wonder what it might be like if they had a big brass band playing with them too. This album does allow time for the mind to wander, with songs straying well beyond the four-, five- and six-minute marks, which is really a shame, because especially with a sound this textured, less is more. The droning guitars and steady drumbeats get stale much beyond three and a half. But as things drag on and the dread of listening to something called "The Big Mash-Up", which clocks in at over 14 minutes, begins to grow and grow, I begin to wonder if I should've just trusted the preconception machine. But all this rambling is a bit unfair, because lots of people will like this stuff, and I like some of it, just not all. Maybe I just have a short attention span and a low tolerance of ba-da-baaaaaaaas. Two of those Big Mash-Up minutes are silent, and followed by some pretty music, but still.