Review: Silver Seas “Chateau Revenge”

Published on – Monday, July 19, 2010

Silver Seas’ Chateau Revenge

(Cheap Lullaby)

When listening to the Silver Seas’ Chateau Revenge, you’re faced with a predicament. Do you enjoy it for what it is – a pristine pop record that, while high-quality, lacks character? Or do you criticize it for what it is – a pristine pop record that, while high-quality, lacks character?

From beginning to end, the Nashville outfit’s latest effort, a self-released follow-up to 2007’s High Society, plays like another band’s songbook. Opener “Another Bad Night’s Sleep,” follower “Jane” and dulcet “Help is on the Way” flicker like a deprived David Gray mating with early Coldplay. They’re gallingly wistful, heaving copiously with guitar luster, beguiling refrains, passively twangy vocals, and trite lyrics (from “Another Bad Night’s Sleep”: “No one likes to worry / No one likes to cry / No one likes to be mistreated…” “A long walk / Off a short pier / Couldn’t drink enough to let the world disappear.”) On the other side, “What’s the Drawback,” “Somebody Said Your Name” and first single, “The Best Things in Life,” are contenders for misplaced blue-eyed soul – both onChateau Revenge and in this musical epoch – harkening back to the days when Hall & Oates had a viable audience. They play like relics of 1980s contemporary soft rock, employing the heavy use of peppy drum beats, drawn-out synths, and “lite” funk bass and piano, even when “taking it slow.”

And, like the music, even the inspiration behind Chateau Revenge is sans distinction – a stab at a “narrative concept album” turned autobiographical missive, overflowing with botched courtships and ultimate salvation that, according to a press release, is “the way a real Hollywood ending should be.” It’s a prosaic back story, one we’ve heard times before and often instated with little success. Really, Silver Seas is suffering from an identity crisis – one cleverly concealed in a burnished box of likeable melodies.

Despite this, there are two noteworthy tracks tucked away for the listener – “Home and Dry” and “Kid.” While familiar but not easily placeable, “Home and Dry” and “Kid” offer some reprieve from the amorphous bulk of the record. They’re both bewitching and sleepy, hinting at a swelling tide of emotion that never quite follows through – a sort of reserve in an already preoccupied demeanor. Unfortunately, though, these couple of songs don’t save the record from itself.

Overall, Chateau Revenge is, at best, a good album. While it’s not reinventing the wheel, it allows it to keep turning and, if you can get passed the unoriginality of its gears, you can at least find some enjoyment.

DOWNLOAD: “Home and Dry,” “Kid”



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