May 11, 2004

The Syrups

Syrup is sticky, it's sweet, it's yummy, it's delicious, and why it's taken this many years for a pop group to lay claim to it as a band name is beyond me. After all, it's the perfect name, especially if you make music that's fun, poppy and just downright sweet. This California quartet have claimed the name, and I've gotta say, they've really made the right choice. If a band was going to call themselves the Syrups, then the music found on The Syrups is exactly what you'd expect.

There are plenty of things to love about The Syrups, but I'm going to focus on the most obvious. First and foremost, they've got that killer vocal thing down. While harmonies are not really the band's focus, you cannot deny the vocal prowess that happens throughout the album. Lead singer Orion Wilson sounds like a second-generation John Lennon, and that's a good thing. Just listen to "Radio," "Forget My Face" and "Metal Man" and tell me that the comparison isn't apt. (If, after doing so, you disagree, I'll simply have to dismiss you as uninformed.) They also do some interesting vocal tags, such as "Men With Money" and the excellent "Strawberry."

You shouldn't discount their retro sound, either. While it's true that a band shouldn't stick with one particular style over the course of an album, it's also hard to complain about a band's retro style when their record was produced by a legend. The story of the Syrups is that Geoff Emerick (who produced some band called the Beatles) heard their demo and fell in love with the band. Thus, the retro feel of The Syrups really can't be seen as a gimmick; after all, if the man who's making your record formed the style, then you're simply following the master's hand. In that way, The Syrups can get away with making 60s-inspired pop.

What makes me worry a little bit, though, is that the band's style might be too indebted to their producer.
If there's one complaint to be had with The Syrups, it's that the Sixties pop-style forumla can become monotonous. While the songs are good, it's undeniable that the first few songs do slightly bog down the album and the band as nothing more than a one-trick pony. It's not until the sixth song, excellent "Wake Up Laura," that the band offers a song that's not Beatlesque, even though it sounds remarkably like Aztec Camera, another band Emerick has produced. When they break the Sixties mold on this and "Don't Stop The Rain," the band sounds great, and the album picks up the pace.

Despite these problems, The Syrups is a great debut album, period. It's fun, it's poppy, and it's an album that you'll come back to time and time again. Though they've got a few things to work with in regards to their sound, it's not something I'm terribly concerned about--for now. It will be most interesting to hear where these guys will go next.

--Joseph Kyle

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