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Sally Sparrow & The Old 41 – Never Far From My Mind – Album Review

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Sally-Sparrow-The-Old-41-Never-Far-From-My-Mind-Album-Cover

It’s uncommon for an indie album to drop in samples from old sci-fi shows, a choice usually reserved for hip hop and rap artists, so when Sally Sparrow & The Old 41 (the name itself a reference) open their debut album Never Far From My Mind on a Doctor Who clip, they’re not only giving context for their name, they’re asking you to take notice.

The opening track “Don’t Blink/Close To The Sun” starts dark and brooding on its Doctor Who clip, before opening into a bright synth and guitar track whose joyful melodies counter its darker message, like Icarus, don’t fly to high. “Window” mixes a dark and roomy feeling of sadness with beautiful instrumentation, adding pain to each verse with its melancholy guitar.

The production on this album is stellar, from the added effects on the aforementioned “Window” to the sound of the drums on tracks like “Heart Of It”, which takes a song that might actually suffer from its pop sensibility and elevates it with an amazing synth-wash that gives it an ethereal feeling. Unfortunately their style is pulled back on “Black Sheep” which strips things back with mixed results, where processed, more spoken vocals work on synths, they sound off on top of piano and may have sounded fine without an effect. It’s the only misstep on this track because the piano sounds amazing, the lyrics heartfelt, and the creeping background synth add to the feel perfectly.

The album takes a rock focused turn on “Bury The Hatchet” and “You Make Me.” “Bury the Hatchet” provides the first stellar drums on the album that actually make the drum machines in the album feel almost alien at times, but the mix of the two on every chorus actually works in the end. “You Make Me” showcases the band’s song writing ability between synth-pop and rock, with their catchy choruses and bridges making it possible to forget that you’ve been listening to a synth record until now.

SS41 – Close To The Sun

ICYMI: Here is the video of "Close to the Sun"… one of the singles off our upcoming album. #indiemusic #dreampop

Posted by SS41 on Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Amazing drums return on “Clearly”, being the standout on the track that almost becomes drowned in its other instruments. The song turns things around when the guitars join in and it becomes a jam blending into a wall of sound that takes the song out perfectly. The band improves on their earlier acoustic woes on “The Appointment” where the added sounds are atmospheric and the vocals and guitar are allowed to breath appropriately. The track’s sonic leap in the bridge never steps too far and provides a tonally perfect addition of effects that never outstays its welcome.

The opening bells on the titular “Never Far From My Mind” are appropriately reminiscent of closing time bells. The vocals while problematic on their own, quickly fit in after harmonies come in and the song begins falling into another sea of sound. The climactic ringing and shouting section sound like a lo-fi Vampire Weekend cut from an album lost in time, appropriate given the endless feeling the track goes out on.

Never Far From My Mind is an album filled with promise, the stellar production and amazing instrumentation are powerful, and the soundscapes from the synths alone carry the listener into their world. While it may occasionally lose some footing, the writing is always top notch and the melodies emotional. While the album may not be scoring Doctor Who any time soon, the album’s sounds never fails to take you to a new and interesting place. Never Far From My Mind is set for a December 1 release and the band is donating all proceeds to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, so that’s pretty rad.

SS41-Band-Photo

THE SCENE


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