Miracles of God: Album Review

Miracles of God | No RefundsMiracles of God
O’ What a Wonderful Day/No Refunds

Iowa City’s Miracles of God have waited long enough in obscurity. After years of playing dusty power-pop, the indie underground has finally caught up. A glut of new fuzzed-out pop purveyors like Times New Viking and Vivian Girls sing about the saccharine love and bitter breakups that comprise Miracles of God’s material. Dusted Magazine once decried Miracles’ “crunchy, clipped, over-modulated digital production” and now that’s a compliment. Despite prior complaints, it’s the messiness of both the music and the subject matter which make the group interesting, and more importantly, enjoyable.

Miracles of God double that pleasure with a pair of new releases. No Refunds is an odds ‘n’ ends collection built from songs left over after departure of bassist Clayton Shuneman. O’ What a Wonderful Day is a proper full-length LP of songs written after the departure of Shuneman. The new line-up now includes Alex Body on Fender Rhodes and synthesizer.

Miracles bury delicious melodies and hook-laden choruses beneath layers of overdrive and analog hiss. No Refunds is a superlative example. Half of the record was taped at the Picador in the fall of 2007, and amid the ambient audience noise and reverberations of the venue the punk-bitten, rave-up of “Calling My Name” is still a stone-cold classic, ridding a heavy stream of power chords and bursting with falsetto coo’s. The peaked-out hiss on the basement recordings that comprise the other half of No Refunds doesn’t mask their infectious energy and quality tune-smithing. Though the lyrics of “Faith” are indecipherable, it’s impossible to hear without try to yell along.

When you can make out the lyrics it becomes clear that Miracles of God are dealing more subtly with inter-personal relationships. The group is still clings to the tropes of Spector-produced kitsch, but their girl troubles and successes are imbued with disarming humor. Songs like “Room 4-2” off O’ What a Wonderful Day exemplify the comi-tragedy of loneliness: “There’s room in this bed for two… this is a king-size dilemma I’m in / I need a queen who can jump right on in / and double my twin.”

The group cracks wise about relationship troubles and hides behind layers of feedback and overdrive. But beneath the roar of guitars and laughter are still well-balanced pop tunes built around good old fashioned heart-break and classic chord progressions.

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