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Posted on August 5th, 2014 (5:30 pm) by Hannah Rank

There’s a strange push and pull happening in the music industry nowadays: the push for higher and higher production value under the custodial eyes of the record company, and the pull of some independent musicians who reject the notion that you need auto-tune and a great layering effect to create the best sound. Amoureux, the latest turnout of Nicole Turley—of Swahili Blonde and other acts—and bassist partner Holiday J, would constitute the pull, and they’re pullin’ hard.

For their debut EP, Never Young as Tonight, Holiday J claims the duo did everything basically in one take but for some vocals, apparently attempting to combat the "sterile" sound of the over-produced and polish studio recordings, the rising norm of the modern music industry. They refer to their musical style "avant-rock," calling on other synth rock groups of yore like Talking Heads as inspiration.

Turley is a self-taught drummer who relied on her dance background for understandings of the beat. This slapdash, messy approach to percussion certainly shines through in Never Young as Tonight.

Her drumming works on these tracks. She’s strong and confident, leading the way for her unlikely ensemble. Really: a band with drums and the bass as lead instruments? Totally great, and colored well by the sparse yet calculated placement of hypnotizing sax (Brad Caulkins), Arabian-style violin (Laena Geronimo), and moody synths. Amoureux certainly embraces the unconventional sound pairings, which helps set the music a step above simple garage rock amateurism.

Without the sprinkling of the supporting instruments, though, Never Young as Tonight could quite easily have faded into garage rock obscurity. The songs all have pretty mediocre lyrics and builds, but they do leave an air of amiability behind them; you really want to like these songs for some reason. Unfortunately, the amiability soon gets muddled in the trail of amateurism that the adamant lo-fi sound leaves in its wake.

While it’s understandable, and even admirable, to want to capture the raw power of a live band in studio, it’s still possible to do so while practicing and refining your sound enough for it to sound complete. New bands especially should take this under consideration, so as not to be considered amateurish. Bands record in-studio performances, raw takes, and full band ensembles all the time, but still manage to sound like professional, impressive bands. Amoureux may have attempted to capture the raw impressionism of the first take, but, especially on the vocals, they ended up sounding like they didn’t want to take it seriously, like they were kind of sick of practicing. Which is strange since you can feel the potential talent of these musicians.

To their credit, Amoureux manages to sound modern even amongst a sea of synth cords, deconstructed drums, synthesizers, and nasally vocalizing. That’s saying something. They really could become something interesting if they prove they can set themselves apart from the millions of other garage rock acts out there. They haven’t yet formed the angle they are peddling. Their upcoming work could either crystallize their new brand of garage rock/raw, minimalist pop, or it could do the opposite and help to further the efforts of “sterile and over produced” recordings. There’s still a great deal of hope for Amoureux. There should definitely be room for the sort of sound they’re cultivating—heck, iterations of it have been around for years. Amoureux should really focus next on balancing capturing “the cusp of creativity” while producing a more honed and tempered sound.

Track List:

  1. Never Young as Tonight
  2. Lost the Plot
  3. I'm Not Comin Home
  4. Your 20s Are For Wasting
Amoureux: Never Young as Tonight EP
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

59 / 100
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