Two years after their debut release, Brooklyn's The Shondes
return with a new collection of songs, My Dear One, self-described
as a breakup album. To begin with, the very idea of assembling a collection
of songs entirely about loss, relationship endings, infidelity, and
the like presents inherent challenges. Notably, how does one put together
such a collection that equally gets the writer's emotional viewpoints
across, without coming off as nothing more than unentertaining spite
or overly earnest self-absorption. While the compositional process
can be healthy and cathartic, the writer's process does not bear any
direct relationship to that of the listening experience. And a song
collection that may be very necessary for a band to put together for
emotional reasons does not inherently make for an enjoyable audience
experience. Such is the case here.
The problem with My Dear One isn't so much with the recording
itself, but with the
fundamental construct of the album. The music is compositionally
sparse, carried along more by an underpinning of violin; the drums
are quiet, the guitar work simple and isolated enough in the mix
to sound as if they were recorded in the bedroom by a young teen
taking their first steps into home recording.
The result of keeping the simple instrumentation and arrangements
is that the vocals are allowed to truly stand out front and center,
which brings us to the real frustration with this album. Most of the
lead vocals have been provided by Louisa Rachel Solomon, bassist
for The Shondes, and the best way to describe her vocals is that they
would probably translate wonderfully in a Broadway musical. At least
on this record, if feels as if Louisa only has one mode of voice,
the only variation to which is the volume, which changes depending
on her varying ratio of anger to bitterness.
As an art school chamber pop record, it's competently executed. In
fact, fans of Ra Ra Riot may very well enjoy aspects of it.
But frankly, the template for this material was stamped far more impressively
by Sinead O'Connor, on her searing recording of "Troy",
the filter by which any other earnest, emotionally ragingly bitter
breakup song should be viewed. By that standard, My Dear One
-Dave Meyer (mondogarage)
Check out more
Like this article?
e-mail it to