Album Review: Suckers - Wild Smile

wildsmile

Brooklyn’s Suckers may be new to the scene but their uniquely off kilter folk rock brands them as mature and focused artists. Unafraid to dive head first into the hazardous waste of frenetic arrangements and erratic singing/yelling, the four piece complete their first full length effort, Wild Smile, unscathed by excess. The band scrapes away at the monotony of build up sections in favor of employing every trick in the game -- gorgeous vocal harmonies, hectic drum pounding, distortion heavy rock riffs and even horns or strings.

Accomplishing plenty in just the first song, Suckers’ opener “Save Your Love For Me” begins with soft guitar and a repeated vocal motif that sounds as if it were recorded straight out of a campfire chorus. The quivering lead vocal enters and it’s clear we’re dealing with a level of nostalgia and sentimentality that many bands approach but few execute cleanly. Then brilliantly, the Brooklyn boys pull out all the stops on a mind-numbingly abrupt maestoso segment, dropping a powerful downtempo rock beat and power chords but simultaneously weaving in and out of maniacal shouting and ceremonial singing. Concluding the courageous swelling, the band runs through a succinct but exciting instrumental interlude as if taking a running start before the final plunge into one of the best falsetto wails you’ll hear from an indie record.

Listen to “A Mind I Knew“:

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No track delivers as magnificently as “Roman Candles.” The band employs a ridiculously catchy “Heigh-Ho” like whistling chorus twice with a verse in between to get the party started but then backs away into a dark corner revealing only a piano interlude with reverberating vocals. The echoes team up with a leader who then allows them to blossom under his wing into harmonious chords that build the bridge gracefully to a finale. Naturally, this involves that same whistle chorus—significantly more majestic this time. A final statement is sung to an extrapolation of that same melody that eventually culminates in a grandiose drum beat and repeated vocal harmony adornment reminiscent of the conclusion to Annuals’ “Complete or Completing.” Like many of the other tracks on the album, “Roman Candles” begins humble folk rock but finalizes into anthem of great circumstance.

Occasionally Suckers sounds a tad like other artists but when this happens it’s only briefly or with an added twist. “Martha” could be a DeVotchKa song if it weren’t for the electro drum machine sneaking in. And “You Can Keep Me Runnin’ Around” could be a Local Natives track if the transitions to harmony and heavier rock were less gigantic and abrupt. They move sporadically through different sounds and arrangements, rarely sticking to one sound for more than a fraction of a verse and formulating a style that’s consistently their own. But most impressively, underneath a veil of maniacal vocals and layers of wandering instrumentals, Suckers reach for a final product that’s gloriously pristine. With such acute precision the chaos is controlled, rewarding listeners with a beautiful, unpredictable masterpiece.

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