The FREQUENCY-IRELAND Music Alternative

An independent voice on choice sounds from the alternative/underground music scene in Ireland.
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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Seneca - Smile / Sweeter Than Bourbon

Don't save your breath just breathe... such is the advise of Rob Hope on Smile, the first single to be lifted from Seneca's soon to be released Sweeter Than Bourbon debut album. They've been compared before to mixing Doves-like waves of sound with the perpetual motion of Arcade Fire, while in the vocal one can hear shades of everything from Jeff Buckley to Elliott Smith, and this single doesn't stray from that set of influences. While the new single is perhaps lacking originality, we do have as expected a radio friendly indie single that is likely to appeal to mainstrem listeners. It comes with So Beautiful, a much more gentle acoustic led affair as a b-side, also taken from the album. A band formed mid-2005, they have received numerous appraisals in the time that has passed since then, and opened for major Irish acts such as The Republic of Loose and Director, and they will undoubtedly receive further appraisals for this single in the mainstream music press also.

Listening through a preview copy of the album this past week, the best of their material lies elsewhere however. Opening with Clarity, a ballad with some of Jeff Buckley's appeal, broken and pulled apart, but held together with bare truth 'why should I take this terrible abuse, I'll tell you one thing I'm a mess but so are you' is quite a strong starting statement, and following through with Playing Fair, warm, propulsive, melodic, anthemic and emotive, we have perhaps the strongest track on the album, or certainly this listeners favourite. The title track, Sweeter Than Bourbon, delivered soft and close over a simple acoustic melody is another high point. Lyrics such as 'your eyes would make heaven hit the floor, something tells me you should be mine' and coupled with references to bourbon and cigarettes, it portrays the art of deception quite wryly, later confirmed with the lyric 'something tells me you see through my lies'. Good For What Ail's You, a coarser affair strikes of 60s pop-rock and has shades of The Beatles around Sgt. Peppers, while No Angel, a propulsive track with a memorable melody, also stands out later on the album, before it fades quietly with a triad of ballads in So Beautiful, Breath and Empty Street. Overall, where a lot of their material may lack in experimentation, the album as a whole makes up for in variety. The single Smile will be available in all good online stores from September 27th, with a launch party to be held at Radio City on September 13th, while the release date for Sweeter Than Bourbon has yet to be set. 6/10 for the single, 7/10 for the album.

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