Sirena is T.J. Simon's #7 album for 2002
First Appeared at The Music Box, October 2002, Volume 9, #10
Written by T.J. Simon
Amorous men have been using pop music as the tool of seduction since the invention of recorded sound. In fact, the term "rock-n-roll" originated as a euphemism for the coupling process, and willful guys have always called upon their favorite recordings for candlelight accompaniment. Discs such as Roxy Musicís Avalon, Van Morrisonís Moondance, Frank Sinatraís Reprise: The Very Good Years, and Snoop Doggís Doggystyle are but a few of the albums universally used for getting in the mood. And now in 2002, make-out music has a new champion in the form of Londonís Cousteau.
For the record, Cousteau does not specialize in sea shanties sung in French; instead, the groupís forte is beautifully orchestrated romantic pop. Most of the tracks on the bandís two releases were written by multi-instrumentalist Davey Ray Moor with the sultry, David Bowie-like baritone of lead singer Liam McKahey in mind. The songs are nearly all elegantly seductive ballads, full of music that is a smooth and jazzy brew of lounge pop for the 21st century. As such, itís full of weepy electric guitars and meandering piano accompaniment, all of which is underscored by the layered instrumentation of subtle string and horn sections.
In 1999, Cousteau released a self-titled debut in the U.K., where the band built quite a buzz and a loyal home fan base. The drive for sonic perfection caused the band to re-record the album in 2000 for a U.S. release that launched the minor hit single The Last Good Day of the Year. The songs on the album are solid and largely compelling with crooner McKahey exhibiting the swagger of a young, sleepy-eyed Sinatra and the voice of Neil Diamond ó that is, if Neil were a whole lot cooler. Sophisticated chord progressions reminiscent of Aimee Mannís balladry anchor the discís strongest cuts Your Day Will Come and Jump in the River. Rich instrumentation and harmonies carry other tracks including She Donít Hear Your Prayer. Unfortunately, this first release has more than its fair share of forgettable moments such as the clichťd Wish You Were Her and the proverbial turd in the kiddie pool One Good Reason. The spectacular moments on Cousteau are diminished by the lesser moments that land with a thud, keeping this debut a few notes shy of a four-star effort.
On the other hand, Cousteauís recent release Sirena, draws upon all the right things from the first disc without any of the filler. The album serves as a soundtrack for lonely hearts, and it fully comes together in a package thatís a bit more poppy, hooky, and hum-able than its predecessor. The passion of the songs is palatable, and the instrumentation features more breadth in the piano, brass, and string accompaniments. Many of the tracks have real hit potential, most notably the opening atmospheric masterpieces Nothing So Bad and Talking to Myself. In addition, the lyrics on Sirena are poetic and far more mature than on Cousteauís debut, particularly on After the Fall and (Damn These) Hungry Times. Both of these cuts have noteworthy guitar solos that crystallize the songs in the listenersí heads and feature memorable violin and horn flourishes. Other songs are clearly influenced by smooth contemporary R&B such as Please Donít Cry and She Bruise Easy. It only took two tries for Cousteau to hit the mark, and Sirena falls square in the middle of the musical bullseye.
Cousteau ó Ĺ
Cousteau is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Sirena is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box