“If there’s one thing that can be said about the album, it is that it is brimming with emotion,” said guitarist Sam McGarrity. Boy, he wasn’t kidding. This emotional direction is a new concept for this group, but that doesn’t mean they still haven’t lost sight of their style. I only say this because as good as their first track sounds, it is very misleading in terms of the direction of the album. As for the rest of their work, it’s well orchestrated, produced perfectly and gives each member a chance to shine.
One of their most notable traits is their ability to build upon ideas while keeping things linear. With rock based bands, things can get a little repetitive. But The Nice Ones never get comfortable and can keep things interesting throughout the entirety of a track.
“Siren Song” is a surprising first start for the group. They’ve released two albums prior to this one and none of them are styled in the way “Siren Song” is, but loyal fans can rest assured that they haven’t lost their roots. With delicate instrumentation and Patrick Surdam’s fragile voice, the song acts as prelude which attests to McGarrity’s claim of the collection being full of sentimentality.
“Know Better” jumps right into their rock and roll style with the only similarity being Surdam’s voice. It’s a straightforward and completely contradictory song to the the prior track. It has a great instrumental hook in the chorus and, again, the group has done a stupendous job of building an arc worth waiting for. There’s plenty of highs and lows to keep thing interesting in an otherwise very rudimentary song.
“Good Kids” is dance worthy, glowing with positive energy and is a track that would be a tremendous hit in a live setting. The guitar hook is an ear worm, in a good way. And once again, they create an arc in their song that builds in a direction that a new listener would never expect. This is undoubtedly one of their key tracks.
Don’t be fooled, “Surfer Girl” is not what it seems. The tone switches back and forth several times and ends in a way that’s completely different than the intro in terms of instrumental and lyrical content. Surdam first speaks of a girl that he “thought of kissing” and ends the song talking about how he should have killed this girl when he had the chance. This one will be listed as another key track because of its contradictory style and, once again, the incredible rise and fall of emotion.
What I’m loving most about the album is how their songs never finish the same way they start. The only similarity is the key, and even that’s arguable. “John Honre Burns!” is one of the most dynamic tracks on the album and has an incredibly misleading intro. The only other time we hear the sultry riff of the intro is half way through the track when it repeats and that’s it. After the second verse, the feeling of rage grows exponentially until the end of the song when it comes crashing down.
Lastly is “Burn it Down,” the most anxious and chaotic track on the album. It leaves a bit of a bitter taste in the listener’s mouth considering what the tone was at the start of the album. It’s fast, rambunctious, but oddly good. McGarrity said this was an emotional track and anger is the emotion that this album was missing. Well, listeners will sure get their fill of anger with this one. It just isn’t a track most groups would place at the end of an album. Looking past that, it’s well orchestrated and a fun listen.
Although the album is “brimming with emotion,” it is a little sporadic. This isn’t an album that people will listen to from beginning to end; it’s too all over the place. I encourage people to riffle through the album to find something they like because there really is something for everyone.
Key Tracks: Siren Song, Good Kids, Burn it Down