Sick/Sea - Moral Compass Review

rating: 4

The smaller the size of the band the larger the soft spot in my heart for them is. I myself have spent many years trying to be a solo musician and composing music as just one person, let me tell you that it ain€™t easy. Being one person trying to fit into multiple roles, let alone write for them, is quite the challenge so when brother/sister duo Sick/Sea are able to create such a full-bodied complete-band sound you know someone has got the chops. Siblings Audrey and Cameron Scott join their family forces together to create a very emotionally-tinged Indie music with a lot of darker overtones to it. With the eventual addition of non-family member Miguel Morales (and apparently another member named Justin according to Last.fm) this Texan group has put out quite the release with the 5-track Moral Compass. While Moral Compass has some brilliant moments it is not without its missteps along the way. Parasite and Robot kick off the album and act both as summarizing how the music sounds and the lack of cohesion the album sometimes expresses. Parasite features this almost Post-Punk atmosphere with its reverberation and melodic-but-not-exactly-inviting composition which works but is guilty of absolutely clashing with the way Audrey Scott€™s singing sounds. They both work on their own but the cohesion between the two is lacking as she€™s a little too uplifting and the music€™s a little too dark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kiugfbTEt6s While not as problematic, Robot also counts as a €œlow€ of the album. The vocals and music flow together worlds better but dear lord this song is guilty of spending four minutes going nowhere. All the pieces of the song feel like they are thrown to the background and no dominant aspect takes the show other than possibly Audrey€™s vocals but they are so soft and effect-laden they don€™t particularly demand the spotlight. It€™s a nice effort but it overall lacks any sort of bite or engagement. Bonus points awarded for Audrey being extremely cute and playing a semi-hollowbody Telecaster. Musician Crush Status: Confirmed. However, with the first two trip-ups out of the way Master Splinter (please tell me this is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference) completely nails the little problems Parasite and Robot had. Everything feels so in tune with the separate parts and the vocals do a flawless job of complimenting the music. Nowhere in the song is this more apparent than the chorus which features a big stinking hook and a very powerful delivery from Audrey. The emotions, the tone, the everything, it€™s just perfect in this song and it is so refreshing to hear Sick/Sea at their full power after the first two lackluster tunes. Sick/Sea Given Master Splinter€™s success, it€™s sad to see the next track Mermaid being such a snoozefest. There€™s just nothing appealing about this song and if you want detailed reasons on why just re-read the paragraphs regarding Parasite and Robot. It suffers the same plague as its predecessors in that it lacks cohesion and anything particularly noteworthy for the listener to grab on to. Now if you are going down this review seeing that I€™ve really only liked one song so far and being slightly confused by the 4 star rating you saw at the beginning, well, I can understand. Just hold on dear reader because you are about to understand what saves this album from being below-average and instead turns it into a very worthy purchase. Blinked hands-down makes the whole experience of listening to Moral Compass feel so fulfilling and, in my opinion, stands out in the top percentage of songs released this year. Scrapping the Indie Pop feel seen in earlier songs Blinked goes for this very passionate and emotional jazzy Lounge feel and by the stars does it nail it. Soft, caressing guitar lines and minimalistic drum work serve as the perfect backdrop for Audrey as she sings her tale of heartbreak for all at the martini bar to hear; it€™s almost uncanny how much this feels like it€™s made to be a movie moment. And on the topic of Audrey€™s vocals it feels like in the preceding four tracks she wasn€™t even trying, the range, tone, and delivery of her performance in Blinked is jaw-dropping and could easily bring a tear to your eye with just how powerful she sounds. Even better is this song€™s climax with the multiple layers of Audrey€™s singing accompanied by a soaring guitar line that ends with this quiet fade to the closing like the last act of a three act movie. Blinked showcases the kind of emotion that will shiver throughout your body every time you hear it, it is a song so blindingly powerful that it completely justifies this entire release. It would be a crime against humanity to not hear this song and there is no better place for it on Moral Compass than the ending tune that sees you out as the experience ends. Moral Compass as a whole isn€™t that hot of a release, the number of below-average songs (three) outnumbers the above-average songs (two) but as controversial as it may seem having said that the existence of Blinked changes the way Moral Compass is seen. It may not be pretty but those tracks, as good or bad as they may seem, lay the foundation for Blinked to come in and make Moral Compass more of an overall experience and definitely something to pick up and listen to.
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The kinda guy that holds one man mosh pits in his room and yells "U-S-A!" throughout the house when the US wins a video game tournament. His adventures are documented on twitter @mrusuk