THINGS TO LEARN - The Silents (Ivy League/Liberation)
This is one heavily '60s influenced record, and mostly the good part of that decade. The arrangements and playing are spot on, there’s vocal harmonies, strings, cleverly constructed songs, great production. There is so much to like about this record, but at its heart it's really missing something. Something like heart. They've thought about it a bit too much.
It sounds like the kinda record that'd be great to listen to stoned. You'd really dig all those little filigrees, the rhythm shifts, changes in dynamics. If you were really stoned, you might even find the lyrics meaningful, stuff like "Where's my mind, where'd it go", to a slow beat with swirling organ. But I'm not stoned, and even if I were, I’ve been listening to music and smoking pot for far too long to get fooled anymore.
The Silents have put a lot of care and craft into this record. Their efforts deserve to be rewarded but I fear they won't be. It doesn't stand out from the pack enough to really catch on and sell a decent amount. It lacks the flair that'd make it at least an underground hipster pick.
I bet, between them and their producers (Dave Parkin at Blackbird in their hometown Perth, Doug Boehm at Sunset Sound in LA, no less), they've got fantastic record collections. You can tell, just by listening, where they've said "Let's do this bit from that record, then we’ll go into that bit from this record" and so on.
I’d like to hear their demo recordings, before all the fancy arrangements were thought of, when they were just hanging in the rehearsal room, bongs sitting on top of AC30s, vodka bottles lying beside the Ludwig kit, a half-empty pack of Stuyvos in an open Jazzmaster guitarcase, traces of speed on a CD cover. That could be worth listening to. No excess of thought. It's rock and roll, after all, and the best of it is intelligent in an instinctual way. Just do it – and you might do it again and again to hit that perfect groove, but you play it, you don't sit around thinking about it.
- Earl O'Neill
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