Throughout the record, McCauley seeks to take advantage of the talents of his band-mates, which both helps and occasionally hampers the album's songs. On cuts like the earnest opener and first single "Easy" as well as the guitar-heavy "Straight Into a Storm," the busier sound works to the group's advantage, strengthening stories of broken hearts and cold nights with backing vocals and sharp rhythms. On a few tracks, however, the additional noise simply detracts from the proceedings, like the over-busy chorus of "Smith Hill," which just piles on the instrumentation in an unnecessarily noisy climax. There are still a few moments of sparse calm on Flag Day, like the thoughtful “Song About a Man,” which recall the simplicity of much of Deer Tick’s debut. However, as enjoyable as the more familiar cuts are, the noisier and more erratic songs can seem like a step in the right direction for McCauley and company, even if the material doesn’t impress as consistently as on his debut.
Born On Flag Day sees a band with growing pains, cautiously feeling out new territory while keeping one foot firmly in the past. And that’s not entirely meant as a criticism; the ten tracks actually coalesce quite well, into a solid forty minutes of indie Americana. But it seems obvious, to me at least, that the boys still have a ways to go before they create the kind of record they seem capable of producing. Fortunately, the material here confirms that Deer Tick is a band determined to improve, and one with no shortage of ideas on how to do just that.
Last Word: A necessary if slightly awkward move in the right direction for an ambitious young band with plenty of time to fulfill the potential they've already shown.
Download: Easy (MP3)