Review Summary: Grandoise cabaret/metal with industrial and punk influences that undoubtedly breaks down many genre boundaries.
Upon discovering this band "Stolen Babies", I didn't quite know what to think. And as I tried to pinpoint exactly what it was that was pulsatiing through my eardrums, I really began to find myself at a loss for words. Most of the musical gurus label this band as metal, and yet that is such a vague categorization of such a confusing yet rewarding band. With elements of ska, punk, industrial, cabaret, and just about any other genre you feel like throwing in there...it becomes very evident that this band's music makes for a unique journey.
In fact, upon looking at them, you might be mistaken that you are in fact looking at a circus. Either that, or the Dresden Dolls added a few more members. Dressed from head to toe like mimes...and at times in other strange accessories. And there stands the beautiful lead vocalist, her name slipping from my mind at the moment, accordian in hand. What is this freak show they are trying to present?
Well, There Be Squabbles Ahead is one masterfully written album. Each and every song is crafted to near perfection, and manages to be unique and yet incredibly catchy at the same time. And even at times, heavy in nature. It's an undeniably catchy pop album wrapped in a fascinating metal/cabaret package, making it both aggressive and easy on the ears. It's Sleepytime Gorilla Museum collaborating with The Dresden Dolls to make an incredibly strange musical concoction. That's one way to describe it. In many ways, it's rather hard to describe it in words alone, you just have to listen for yourself.
The first song, Spill starts with the ringing of bells and some swelling feedback...and then it kicks in with an organ and cymbol crushes, eventually building to some fast drums and guitar and the snarling vocals of the beautiful female frontwoman. It's probably the heaviest track on the album, as very little clean vocals are present, just straight fast paced heaviness.
But a pale indication of the album that song is. It gives a hint of what is to come, but nothing more. "Awful Fall" changes the pace for a heavily bass driven, industrial track, with the first real taste of the beautiful voice of the frontwoman singing cleanly, and yet it's contrasted well with periodic deafening screams. It definately demonstrates her rather large range.
"Filstata" sounds like a circus with accordian and a very catchy bassline relevant. It leads to a very melodic passage with chugging guitars and beautiful vocals. It's probably one of the stronger tracks on the album, demonstrating just what the band is capable of. It even includes a fast picked guitar breakdown with accordian and organ in full force on top of it all. A truly wonderful track.
In fact, each and every track on this album demonstrates something new and interesting, making it very interesting to listen to for the first time. It keeps the listener on the edge of the seat, as you never really know what to expect. The instrument selection and integration into the music is intriguing. They have even wrote some near classics, demonstrated by "filstata", and "So Close" is a perfectly implemented techno/industrial track with computerized drum beats and an unbelievably catchy guitar line and chorus. The most straightfoward song on here is the single fromt he album "Push Button", and even so it's extremely atmospheric and stunningly beautiful.
If I am failing to fully give you a grasp to the general sound of this album, I am sorry...but it's certainly hard to describe such an interesting release. The closest bands you will find to this fall into the "avant garde" genre of metal. It's a more contained version of Unexpect, with some resembling that of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, however not quite as far out there as those bands. It's definately a bit poppier than those bands, but experimental in it's own right, and they have certainly created a unique sound all of their own, one that I can see them growing with and someday building quite a big fan base with. It has so much to please so many fans of so many different genres.
This is something special, and although they aren't playing sold out arenas across the globe, it doesn't make their sound any less grandoise or epic.