Review: The Scenic – Bipolaroid

Artist: The Scenic
Album: Bipolaroid
Genre: Pop Rock
Label: Victory

Let me start by saying, I tried to like this album. As a fan on The Scenic’s first album, Find Yourself Here, I tried to find the good points on Bipolaroid because I figured I owed them that much from all the toe tapping, feel good vibes they’d given me in the past, but it wasn’t much use. I won’t even venture to say that it’s a terrible album, but rather that it has all too much in common with an Olympic bronze medalist…it’s forgettable.

I don’t always subscribe to this brand of pop rock, but when I do I expect infectious hooks to be delivered directly to my temporal lobes on a silver platter. That’s priority number one and Jeremy Menard just did not deliver the goods. It’s largely a garage sale of random abstract imagery, sophomoric lyrics, half developed hooks and other anomalies, but as any good indie music fan knows, there are always gems to be found at garage sales.

“Sunday Morning” is a lukewarm opener for the album, but it’s quickly followed by The Scenic’s first single, “Uh Oh,” which shows promise for this sophomore shot. It’s probably the best pick for a single off this album and the catchiest tune you’re going to get within the next thirty minutes. Interestingly introducing the chorus softly before repeating it with more gusto each time has a nice effect that sucks you into the music and sets you closer to the keys that float along. You’ve gotta stick around this one long enough to hear guitarist Zach Andreson’s additions to the tune’s strong finish.

Tracks three and four pass by with no direct hits on my consciousness as the melodrama continues until we find our first real hiccup with “Sparrow Song”, which is a dichotomous confusion between either love lost or anonymity. I’m still not sure which is intended, but I’ve beat my head against the wall too long deciphering this emotionally unmoving ballad attempt. So we move on.

The real eye openers on this album are tracks nine and eleven. Maybe it’s because they follow a series of disc clutter and have marginal ability to connect with the listener, or maybe they’re just good songs that somehow settled to the bottom end… I don’t know which but I’m not complaining. “Halo” is an honest and emotional song with a heartfelt vocal performance and great instrumental support. It really didn’t feel like they were trying with this song and the simplicity is finally refreshing. “Tonight We Live Forever” closes Bipolaroid in a darker, moodier feel than I expected and the drums create builds that kept me on my toes. Though the vocals and guitars uses constantly reoccurring melodies throughout the track, the effect isn’t monotonous but rather adds to the dreamlike state it creates and ends with me thinking that there is definitely potential for a third album that could set them back on track.

I suppose the feeling I walk away with is frustration. There’s some straight up drivel here and then there’s talent and promise. Songs that give a middle finger to Find Yourself Here’s accomplishments and then others that prove Jeremy Menard has lyrical depth that translates well to songs and carries a voice that’s soft enough to survive in The Scenic’s genre of choice. Unfortunately, they may not survive more albums like this one.

Score: 4/10
Review written by: Eric Dexter

James Shotwell
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