Track order matters

Never underestimate the power of sequencing.

That is, never underestimate the power of the order of an album’s track list.

Compact disc technology has long since allowed a listener to determine which tracks to play on a CD, something the needle of a record player or the fast forward/rewind buttons of cassette player could never accomplish.

That doesn’t mean artists are remiss in their responsibility to do right by their albums and come up with a decent sequence.

Condor44 didn’t learn that lesson on its first album, 00203. Despite some mature, intelligent songwriting, 00203 fell apart as an album.

The Japanese trio stacked all its fast-tempo songs at the start of the album, then finished the second half with slow, long-winded psychedelia. The two differing aesthetics of Condor44’s songs complemented each other, but by segregating them, the band ultimately weakened both.

Luckily, Condor44’s follow-up, db, suffers from no such mistake.

The same kind of intelligent songwriting packs this second album — melodically simple, harmonically complex, and rhythmically unpredictable.

But this time, the band evenly distributes its material.

The ends of the album are anchored with fast songs, leaving the middle part with more spacious songs. In other words, they built an arc. (Or a valley, if you prefer.)

“db” alternates between the sweet verses of Ishida Chikako and a boisterous chorus delivered by Sasaki Hirofumi. “condortime” may tick at a standard four-quarter time, but the drum’s unexpected stops accent odd parts of the beat.

“Renge” wades in reverb, building to an ethereal climax, whereas “bo-go.09” generally sticks to a sparse arrangements — acoustic guitar, voice and light percussion.

“Ranka” gives the album a trip-hop turn, while “visionary town” ramps the volume — but not the tempo — back up.

Like Luminous Orange and mono, Condor44 doesn’t use very many power chords. Sasaki likes his harmonies thick and lush, slightly dischordant but never too off-kilter.

db realizes the potential 00203 first hinted, and it succeeds in presenting Condor44’s broad sound in the best possible light.