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The Sad Machine


The Singular

  Penguinaut Records  
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The Singular are a band from Akron, Ohio, home to avant-garde legends Devo, as well as my cousin Michael Anne and her family. I would be willing to bet that the band are aware of Devo, but probably not of my relatives. Typical.

The Singular are a pop band with a standard four-piece pop lineup. The songs are based around the lyrics of James Pequignot. Let me go over them.

Airplane Food gives the album a nice start with a lovely piano riff courtesy of Nichole Catalano-Miller. On Patience as a Virtue, Pequignot tortures his voice like Thom Yorke, so it is not unsurprising that this song reminds me of OK Computer.

The Singular mix it up a bit for CMF. The voice is different here: more forceful, less whiney. It's a pretty catchy song, but then, in the middle, the guitar steps forward with a positively delightful little picked melody, and then the band whistle. This song reminds me of the playful tone of the first Kevn Kinney solo record.

One More Machine is another piano tune. The chorus is lovely, with a swelling of strings and the voice kind of Yorke-ishly whiney but buried in the mix with the piano.

The Devil's Two Step is a nervous little song that moves at a cracking pace. I think it is the drumming that gives this song it's tension, but it helps that the instrumentation is stripped down to just a chiming guitar and angrily thumping bass, while the voice whines and soars. Eventually the song explodes with insistent drumming, horns, and crazy singing. The song reminds me, slightly, of what The Black Heart Procession were doing.

Up next is The Traveling Salesman Problem, which is one of the better song titles i have heard in a while. The piano drives this one again, while Jordan Valentine does some understated yet heavy drumming. This song reminds me a bit of The Potomac Accord.

Apocalyptic Prelude starts with a mournful keyboard riff and Pequignot singing sadly. Then strings come in, and the band, for a moment, channel Spiritualized. It is only two minutes long, but it has that grandiose, J. Spaceman feel to it. I wonder if it is about heroin? It is followed by When the World Ends, a song that starts with some electro noodling, grows into a strummed guitar piece, and then gets kind of epic, with strings and oohing keyboard sounds. Very nice.

Finally, the album ends with Bigger Than You, another piano tune. It is not the best, nor the worst song here, just kind of a slow end to the record.

I have to admit that i am impressed. Nothing about my admittedly very limited exposure to Akron would have led me to believe that they had such an interesting band. There is a lot going on here, and The Singular manage to balance dense layered tunes with forceful vocals. This is good pop music.

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