Under Review: The Sadies – Darker Circles

Toronto combo The Sadies are a very solid outfit.  Not only do they have more than a decade’s worth of their own recordings to their credit, but they’ve also worked with some of the finest talents in alternative country and garage rock.  Some of those talents include Neko Case, Jon Langford and John Doe.  Despite all this activity, The Sadies haven’t made that much of an impact on their own; a real shame considering their impressive chops.  What’s held the group back from widespread recognition is exactly what their collaborators have built successful careers on: songwriting.  Though The Sadies’ own albums have always been modestly enjoyable and eclectic, they rarely make as big an impact as their collaborators’.  The Sadies’ newest, Darker Circles, continues their showcases for impeccably performed and arranged music, but is ultimately forgettable.  It’s not a good sign when the listener can identify songs that were intended to sound rousing but simply aren’t.  Just like watching a bad movie and picking out all the moments that the filmmakers clearly intended to be funny, Darker Circles features too many empty promises.  “Another Day Again,” with its prominent guitar mix and buried vocals sounds messy and “Postcards” is a rather generic harmony-laced country rave-up.  All of this comes as a disappointing surprise, considering how great The Sadies are as musicians.  The band has previously featured outside artists as performers or co-writers on their records, but Darker Circles has no one but The Sadies themselves to blame.  Even some impressive late-set songs, acoustic folk stomp “Choosing To Fly” and the instrumental “Ten More Songs,” come far too late to save this record from being merely pleasantly dull.  I don’t mean to condemn The Sadies to the realm of “never will be’s,” because they’ve already proven themselves to be incredibly capable of excelling at what they do.  Unfortunately, a non-instrumental album cannot get by on music alone.  For the soundtrack to Tales Of The Rat Fink, The Sadies showed that they can fill a disc with great (albeit brief) instrumentals.  Now it’s time to step up and take some poetry writing classes.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something that their material desperately needs.

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~ by E. on May 26, 2010.

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