Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Album Review: Sheer Mag - Playing Favorites

Sheer Mag
Playing Favorites
*** out of *****

On the strong opening title track to Sheer Mag's newest album Playing Favorites, lead singer Christina Halladay sings about packing up the van and just playing those party rockin' songs with friends, never looking back. Throughout the album Sheer Mag keep that bygone, good-times-feeling alive with their throwback, 70's influenced pop rock. 

The Philadelphia based outfit consist of Halladay – lead vocals, Matt Palmer – rhythm guitar, keyboards, Kyle Seely – lead guitar, backing vocals, drums, and Hart Seely – bass. For this go around they front load the album with the best tunes as the opening title track burns with nostalgia and a sense of freedom while "Eat It and Beat It" is the best of the bunch. The group uses interesting mini motifs throughout the four minute pop song making it feel grandiose in Kinks like fashion via rumbling drums, sneering vocals, layers of guitars, and a weird floating break down that is cool as hell. 

From there the band has a few hits and misses, for the most part, when they channel their power pop in the vein of Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy, they succeed. This is evident on efforts like "Don't Come Lookin'", "Golden Hour" and "Tea on the Kettle". The pumping "Paper Time" uses tightly wound rhythm and riffs, and soothing backing vocals to climb the power pop mountain. 

Less successful is when the band branches out in different fashions. The funky "Moonstruck" feels out of place, "Mechanical Garden" goes full prog-pop and then disco in what feels like an overloaded track that is disjointed while "When You Get Back" closes the record on a tepid note. Also of note are Halladay's lyrics which sound nice with her vocal delivery, but never rise too far from cliché. Much better is the Wings meets The Go-Go's combo "I Gotta Go" which meshes their seventies pop/rock love nicely. 

Mixing and matching influences keeps listeners interested throughout, as Sheer Mag dig in and keep Playing Favorites.  
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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