Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sir Sly Splits Some Gold And Ghost

Sir Sly
Sometimes creating a bit of mystery behind the music is warranted and sometimes it isn't. Los Angeles-based Sir Sly didn't really the need the gimmick given their electronic pop steeped in sadness and angst can stand on its own. It was only a matter of time before they pulled back the veil anyway.

Beside, electronic indie pop in any form tends to magnify the personality behind the music and there was no reason to think Landon Jacobs, Jason Suwito, and Hayden Coplen didn't have any. They do, even if their mystery is mostly grounded in the web scrub of The Royal Sons (the one that formed after Brothers At Sea, not the North Carolina gospel quintet from the 1940s), which had produced a well-received 6-track EP with the help of producer Suwito (who also had his own band, Polaris at Noon).

Sir Sly stirs up spirits with downbeat electronic.

No matter. The new bandmates obviously wanted a break with the past or as clean as they could get it. Doing so might shave a few review graphs of comparison, even if the difference is mostly a darker, more cohesive and less commercial sound than any earlier work. They truly put in the time to perfect it.

All three tracks were recorded, mixed, and mastered at a home studio, which was probably only possible to do with Suwito on board. People in Los Angeles are reasonably familiar with his name. He's been connected to a number of projects, just none of which (arguably) were this promising.

Ghost was the first track put out for sampling by the trio so it only makes sense that it is also the one most people are talking about. This breakup ballad capitalizes on Jacobs' always powerful and deeply melodic vocals. He also conjures up the heartache of a fading love, with nothing much left than an evaporating memory — a ghost of something felt a long time ago by something much more literal.

The song is spot on for electronic with its surging synth, but crosses over into indie quarters thanks to some solid percussion work. While it loses some of its power with the introduction of a falsetto three-quarters into the song, Ghost still proves Sir Sly has found its place to make some compelling music.

Still, as good as Ghost is, it was the anthemic second single Gold that caught my attention. It lands somewhere between push off and regret, which is closer to how these things feel. There comes a point when everybody needs to shrug off broken relationships.

Sir Sly rocks the track with its big thematic sound, filling up every inch with just the right amount of synth and live instruments. Gold also showcases the trio's talent for writing lyrics and then finding the right way to deliver them. The heartbreak is obvious but so is the ability to move on — a textured blend of hip hop, rap, and indie rock influences.

Sir Sly is surprisingly rousing with its brooding, downbeat arrangements. 

The third track, Where I'm Going, is a bit more straightforward in its delivery on the front end. But after the opening arrangement, the song breaks new ground after the minute mark, with a bigger yield and a fuller sound before finding itself with a chilling chorus.

Like the brooding qualities of the first two tracks, Where I'm Going touches on someone who gets up after getting punched in the gut. But there is something more too. It also brings in the juxtaposition of broken gender roles, and the resolve to overcome them.

All in all, it's how all of it comes together — the music, the lyrics, and vocals — that earns Sir Sly space as a new artist to watch. While the tempo suggests all three tracks belong on a chill playlist, it's nearly impossible to sit around after the second pass of noir pop.

Sir Sly Stirs With Its Debut Ghost At 7.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Neon Gold Records will be releasing Ghost as a 7" debut next month in conjunction with its sister label National Anthem in the United Kingdom. But even with the promise of a debut release, it's important to note that the B-side track, Where I'm Going, will only be released on digital offerings.

The double single, Ghost by Sir Sly, is available for download from iTunes. Ghost is also available on Amazon. The single includes all three tracks, including the B-side Where I'm Going. For upcoming tour information, visit Sir Sly on Facebook. Most appearances are slated for California, but the band recently booked a March show in Arizona.
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