Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Album Review: The Pinder Brothers - Melancholy Sea

It saddens me, both as a listener and critic, that the kind of music I grew up listening to is almost an endangered species in the mainstream. Yes, the internet has made it possible for that sort of music to find a small niche, and for me to be able to get my fix once or twice a year through a new release, but by and large there is no longer a place for well-written pop music that relies and guitars and harmonies. Perhaps it's old-fashioned to think that music played by musicians on musical instruments should be normal, but it isn't, and pop music has followed the cheapening of the craft into a black hole of inanity.

But every so often, a record comes along that remembers what pop music used to be, and can life your spirits. The Pinder Brothers are biologically destined to write smooth, beautiful pop music, being the scions of one of the members of The Moody Blues. That legacy, not necessarily in sound but in craft, wafts over this record.

“Same Mistake” opens the record with some subtle strings, and a melody that feels familiar right from the start. The rolling piano line similarly brings to mind something I can't quite place, but more importantly it makes the song feel like home, if you allow me to be a bit clich├ęd. There are some beautiful harmonies scattered in the background, and by the end of the first four minutes of the record, you have a pretty good idea that “Melancholy Sea” is going to be a warm and inviting record.

“Pale December” switches the mood, building atop a finger-picked acoustic guitar melody, leading up to a chorus that is understated, but uses the movements of the notes effectively to build a melody that captures your attention. The bridge sees electric guitars come in, and while the extra power is a nice way of establishing the building power of the song, they aren't necessary to the composition. It's a simple song that works exactly because it's a simple song.

“Talk To You” has a very early millennium, Fountains Of Wayne” vibe, riding a crest of smooth melodies and glistening guitars. “Trust Being You” goes for a chunky, blues feeling, complete with a grittier guitar tone and what sounds like slide playing in the solo. It's refreshing to hear a group trying their hand at songs that don't all follow the same boiler-plate pattern, while still retaining a core sound that ties them together. The last thing you usually want to hear is an album where all the songs could easily be interchanged. That is not the case here, as there is some real diversity among these tracks.

By the time you get to the end of “Melancholy Sea”, there's not a lot to complain about. The hooks could be a little bit sharper, and the whole album does lack a little bit in the energy department, but those aren't cardinal sins. Being laid-back works for these songs, although they do toe the line a bit more than I might want them to. Still, the important thing to make note of is that it's hard not to find this an endearing little record.

“Melancholy Sea” isn't a great album, but it's a charming collection of honest songs that are written with a more deft hand than most of the pop fluff you're going to find in the mainstream. Even if you only put it and smile while listening, and it doesn't carve its name in your memory, that's still a pretty good achievement. If you miss the old days of pop, it's worth checking out.

1 comment:

  1. Compared to much of the music I've listened to these days, I think Melancholy Sea is a great album. It's well produced , well written musically and lyrically with very nice arrangements . Thus, the over all performance is superb. As a composer and musician myself, I'd give them a more enthusiastic thumbs up. Brad Parker