Review Summary: First timers and those who enjoy “Radio Rock” will probably find a lot to like in “Cover Your Eyes,” but if you want to listen to Sullivan, buy “Hey, I'm a Ghost.”
I was extremely excited about the second effort from Sullivan on Tooth and Nail records. Their first album, “Hey, I'm a Ghost,” was such an original effort, it quickly grew to become one of my favorites, although it didn't get as much recognition as it deserved. Well, a year and a half later we have Sullivan's second shot in recording with “Cover Your Eyes.”
In my opinion it's almost as if someone said, “Hey, you guys were a little too original in the first album, let's pull it back, conform it a little more and maybe shoot for some radio play.” I hate it when that happens, because when it does, you get “Cover Your Eyes.”
It's going to be hard to review this album without wanting to make direct comparisons to Sullivan's first effort “Hey, I'm a Ghost.” I have really enjoyed the fresh sound that Sullivan contributed to the indie rock scene in early 2006. The music was all driven by the “either love em' or hate em'” vocals of lead singer Brooks Paschal. Vocals that were over the top whiny and eerie (to the point of sounding “Halloween spooky”), but were mature all at the same time. The music soared above average with excellent guitar riffs/hooks and breaks in the songs that were unexpected and fun.
Don't get me wrong, I understand bands wanting to branch out and try new things, experiment etc, but this is not what Sullivan has done. They took a unique sound and dumbed it down to sheer conformity. The music is in a mold, or a box. 7 out of 10 songs on this album have the exact same musical format, a lot of palm muted guitars, that build to open strumming with a chorus. Same 4 strum/switch chord pattern throughout the most of the album. Brooks still brings original vocals to the table, but they too have been more conformed to not be as outrageous as the first album.
This album is also very short, tracking along at only 10 songs and ending after a short 34 minutes and 24 seconds. The final song on the album, “Fire Away” is one of the better songs on the album, but it ends very abruptly. It feels like we could have been given a little more for the $13.99 average you're going to find this album for.
If you set the album apart on it's own this album is enjoyable enough. You can tap your foot and sing-a-long. But compared to their 1st album it's just not original. There's nothing in me that wants to keep listening to this record.
The lyrics in most of the album are pretty hard to get for me and I can usually get into a good set of lyrics. These lyrics, for the most part, seem to be all over the place and don't really convey any solid meaning. What I get is that half of the album is about relationships (Girls or God) and the other half is up to anyone's interpretation. I do like the spiritual line from one of the albums stronger songs, “F-Stop” were Brooks sings, “If you don't believe in God, you will now. I've got hooks and a chain that will fit you well, so save your air.”
I know it seems as though I have bashed the album something fierce here, but we do have to give Sullivan some credit. They did manage to make an album that is not bad by any means, it's just not original, but is still better than half of the “popular” garbage out there. Brook's vocals will still please fans of the first album, or those looking for something original and the music is easy on the ears and fun to sing with.
My final thoughts are that unfortunately, I must say that in my own opinion this band has fallen into the dreaded “Sophomore Slump.” Not nearly as bad as some bands (AKA Finch), but it is a slump. Don't get me wrong, this album is not “Bad” it's just not nearly as strong as Sullivan's first effort. I'm probably belaboring the point. I certainly hope we see something of greater value in the next effort. Don't steer clear of this album, but if you have yet to buy a Sullivan record, buy “Hey, I'm a Ghost.”
Overall, this album is good, but would I buy it all over again now that I've listened to it" Probably not.
Pros: Very unique vocals. Music is enjoyable and easy to listen to, very polished sound.
Cons: Too polished of a sound (compared to 1st record). Formula of almost all of the songs is the same. Music is easily forgettable, an overall step backwards from their first album. Tracks all blend together.
Stand-out Tracks: F-Stop, Tell Me I'm Wrong, The Process and Fire Away.
Try Sullivan for yourself, you may like what you hear! Listen to Sullivan at www.myspace.com/sullivan