This is a review of "Sunshine Skylark Bridge" recorded by Rhode Island. The review was written by Gavin Miller in 2004.
Type the words "Rhode Island" into Google and you'll find websites on The Rhode Island Department of Transportation, The Rhode Island School of Design and The Official Web Site of the State of Rhode Island - Your gateway to information about living, working, visiting, and doing business in Rhode Island. Nothing then, on the band Rhode Island, whose four track EP sits before me.
Regardless of information on them on the Internet, the band have some very accomplished and pretty darn great songs here. Unfortunately, there's no tracklisting (or case for the CD!) so it's impossible to tell you what songs are called what. Fortunately for them however, the songwriting and the melodies on this CD are brilliant. Imagine Snow Patrol before they could afford studio time, and you have an idea of what to expect. Indeed, the whole EP was recorded on an 8 track in their rehearsal room, so it sounds rough, raw and full of energy.
Track one starts with some belting drums, some lovely vocal harmonies, and some tuneful guitar strumming. It's quite like Seachange's last few singles, and that's no bad thing. Melodic and upbeat, it sounds as fresh and raw as when they recorded it. Will Turner's singing is on top form, as is the rest of the band on backing vocals, which really give the track a lift.
The next track is all strummy prettiness. If the last track was their stadium anthem, then this is their quirky album track that everyone talks about. An upbeat, jolly romp of a song, including that deliciously clean guitar, gorgeously harmonic backing vocals and some fun lyrics. It's early Belle & Sebastian meets 'After Hours' - era The Velvet Underground via really early Beatles stuff. Well, it's not that good, but still - you get the idea.
Three songs deep now, and it's evident that these guys aren't here to rock like the Darkness or pose like The Strokes, but are too interested in trying to get that perfect melody. Lyrics about bus stops and trying to pick up the phone to call a special someone are all helped along by frantic strums and cymbal taps. Instrumental breaks and experiments with sound all help give the EP a boost and a restless energy that makes it so damn enjoyable. It all gives it a fresh slice of diversity too.
Last track now, and it's more strummy guitar indie- lite. Ascending riffs with some steady drumming and some more of those great backing vocals all compliment each other so well, and when that lead from guitarist David Jeffrey comes in, it all seems to meld together so well.
Whilst they obviously have some great ideas and a great knack for tune and songwriting, the songs on show here are perhaps a little too stripped down. And yes, I know they recorded it on an 8 track, and had minimal overdubs, etc. but I'm so looking forward to the day when these guys can finally afford to record in a studio. There's potential here and a lot of it too. Who would've thought in this day and age of über hype and PR bollocks that a CD like this one could slip in, undetected in just a piece of A4 writing paper and a CD-R? Good call.