Pop-rock records built on sugary hooks and a boyishly charming-yet-fragile lead singer in today’s ‘indie’ music scene are as common as Chlamydia at the bus station. It’s almost as if, thanks to the market of outcasted 16 year old girls, eyeliner plus four chords equals some kind of record deal.
Shameful; however, here’s a little secret: I’m a sucker for that sound if it’s properly delivered. Moneen or Cartel can do it; seemingly infinite others can’t. The first track on The Graduate’s Anhedonia warned that the album a) fit this hit-or- (most often) miss genre, and b) would need to be classified according to “Andrew King’s Guilty Pleasure Pop-Rock Album Scale”, which only has the two previously hinted at categories: really bad, or not bad.
About half way into the record, after absorbing what I felt was enough to make an initial judgment, I was actually very intrigued by The Graduate and eager to hear more. After spinning the album a pair of times, I decided that I actually liked it.
This album is full of bubblegum hooks that your little sister has probably set as her ring tone already, but these hooks aren’t too shallow or hollow, as they come supported with some nice extra layers that make them credible. In essence, this is a pop record that isn’t afraid to represent the genre, but that also incorporates enough depth by borrowing from other genres to stay afloat in a sea of recycled musical filler.
At the root of this band’s sound is an incredibly solid rhythmic foundation laid down by an ultimately terrific performance from behind the drum kit. The rhythms on this record are not only big, fast and arena-ready, but often surprisingly technical, with some great off-time fills and well executed triplets tossed into the mix to trigger a little extra excitement from any listener. Try “Better Company” for an example of what I’m talking about here.
Examples of effectively deployed peripherals include some very ambient lead guitar lines that, combined with the aforementioned backbeats, give tracks like opener “Sit & Sink” a slight reminiscence of the impeccable ambience of, say, The Receiving End of Sirens. There are also some really tasty staccato guitar leads with a great use of delay in the vein of The Fall of Troy’s Doppelganger, as heard on “Surround Yourself”.
At times, the band can try a bit too hard to be cute instead of honest, or fall into an all-too-familiar mediocrity, but they sometimes manage to rescue themselves before it becomes too irritating.
Aside from these slips and some painfully juvenile lyricism, this is a pop record I can safely get behind and push on people. I was actually kind of surprised with how much I enjoyed this release, and hopefully if they build up on what they’ve accomplished with Anhedonia, The Graduate will be playing to a bigger audience shortly. [ END ]
01. Sit & Sink
02. I Survived
03. Bet It All
05. The City That Reads
06. Better Company
07. Surround Yourself
10. Stay The Same
Run Time: 41:57
Release Date: 2007