Sumack Now Hear This (V2)

SXSW Records

Record Reviews

Sumack

Now Hear This (V2)

This is the modern world: Genres become hyphenated, journalists crack the thesaurus for variations on "hodgepodge" (variant: "hotchpotch," see also "pastiche"), and bands like Sumack become the rule and not the exception. To fixate on their use of samples, megaphones, and beats is to be provincial. Were it not for their complex production proclivities and tendency toward the groove, Sumack would be a straight pop group with tight, catchy songs. Being the ambitious types who pack up their gear and head for Hollywood, however, they strive for much more than your average guitar combo: labyrinth-like production, arcane samples, and narrative-driven lyrics. Comparisons are necessary -- Soul Coughing, Beck, Self, even Cake (though not nearly as grating) -- but ultimately inadequate, as Sumack eschews irony for emotional earnestness. The vocal delivery of lead singer Mark McAdam can get exhaustingly Beat as he crams every melodic line with a lyric, so it's a great relief when the sleepy vocals of musical Girl Friday, Kit Pongetti, laze in on the album's highlight, "Downfall Days." This track feels the least labored of the bunch and capitalizes on the band's creative arranging, Pongetti-McAdam harmonic marriage, and subtle musicality. This is a solid album -- a potential hit -- that simply feels good to be around, even though this seemingly collaborative unit clearly has greater stuff in it. Hint: Give the chick more songs. (Saturday, Mar 18, Maggie Mae's East, 1am)

*** 

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