Review: The Hurricane Lamps – “Sing Me A Song”

The end of every Hurricane Lamps track on the band’s fourth release, Sing Me a Song, may be a masterpiece but you wouldn’t know, because it can feel so difficult sometimes to get there.
Like many bands of the sunshine indie pop-rock variety, Hurricane Lamps have toyed with the airy playfulness of a quickly strummed electric guitar – the shuffling chucca-chicca/chucca-chicca of a pick scraping over six strings – to great effect. But the resulting songs seem to lack the weight and gravity to illustrate passage or much movement.
Even with bridges and choruses and the familiar guitar solo here and there, the tracks lack something. In short, as the songs toe-tap and wind their way to completion, you sometimes feel like the band hasn’t really taken you anywhere.

All of this, though, is not for lack of trying. The playing on the Sonic Boomerang release is refined and the recording/production is crisp, placing the vocals at just the right nook in the mix to make them particularly appealing to radio. And the CD is not without its interesting and engaging moments – a dissonant instrumental bridge in “Dive,” the more crunchy two-toned electric guitar work that kicks off “Judge You All Night,” the 60s-speckled guitar solos and cooed vocals that close “A Promisee,” or the a cappella refrains three minutes into “A Home.” But, again, the songs fall to familiar tricks, the verse, the chorus, the verse, the bridge, the solo, the chorus again, and so on.

Guitarist/keyboardist/singer Eric Tischler has a voice that will no doubt be appealing to some, a nasal but emotive delivery that fits the record’s colors. Bassist Greg Bennett and drummer Jason Merriman also perform admirably, each serving as an inventive rhythmic anchor to Tischler’s pop-rock frontman routine.

The formulas, though, don’t grab hold of you so much as they entertain you for a few minutes and then fade from memory as quickly as they introduced themselves.

Devotees of 80s pop and contemporary pop fare of the beaming variety may be drawn to the record, and for good reason. Tischler – the Lamps’ songwriter and clear driving force – has a knack for crafting pop melodies and displays a collection of hooks and lures that could make a fisherman blush

But, in an attempt to place the jangly guitars and smooth, commercial radio-ready vocals in the forefront of most the record’s 35 minutes, he underplays some of the free spiritedness of the band, some of the lingering weight of their chemistry, and some of Sing Me a Song‘s finer moments. It’s a perfectly fine record for the right audience, but, for many, Tischler and company may feel like they’re offering to sing a tune that can’t manage to entice the listener to follow along from refrain to refrain. – Delusions of Adequacy, April 26, 2004

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