Everything on Vespolina’s new album is safe. By that, I mean that if you’ve trafficked in pop-rock over the past two decades, you’re not going to hear anything particularly surprising. In fact, quite a lot of obvious influence from ’90s and the early 2000s can be heard throughout the album. All of the ingredients from that era are here: love songs in 4/4 time, carefully reverbed guitars, the occasional keyboard line.
But whereas the major-key momentum found in bands like the Gin Blossoms was popular with teenagers and adults alike, Ribbon Chaser’s sound leans more toward the dark tones found in some of the less popular (but equally influential) acts like The Minus 5. Take a listen to “Dark Heart Lucky Hand,” a song that includes lines like “I’m a suicide king/ You’re the queen of hearts.” Vespolina strikes a middle ground between the bleak and bright on “The Explanation,” a song with impressive harmony vocals and well-mixed keys.
Although well-written songs like “Woven” and “Unwound” certainly hold their own, the real winner on this album is the production. That might be an odd (or, at least an obvious) thing to say about a pop-rock record, but it should certainly be noted. The songs are a little longer, more mature and a lot more realistic than the radio hits Ribbon Chaser’s target audience might remember, but the sound is well polished and definitely worth a careful listen. 3 out of 5.
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