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Suitable Victims – Broken Pieces

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One thing that I like about being a reviewer is that I get the chance to discover new music by up-and-coming bands. I was recently contacted by Suitable Victims, a band who had just released their debut EP Broken Pieces. I took a listen to it on SoundCloud and thought it was worth a review. Why? They do some interesting things that I think will interest guitar-rock fans. When they contacted me, they referred to themselves as a 70s-influenced guitar band. That description got me thinking in terms of early Trans Am, particularly their first album, before the synthesizers got thick. They are nowhere near as esoteric as that great band, though that is not an insult to Suitable Victims. Instead, it is a comment on their focus on exploring various brands of guitar-oriented rock.

Unlike Trans Am, this is a songwriter-oriented band, with a good mixture of solid rhythm guitar and distorted lead. The first song, ‘For Tonight,’ opens with a deep guitar line that has a subtle feel of mid-period Radiohead. The singing comes across as earnest and meaningful, the rhythm line mostly acoustic. In fact, the rhythm guitar across this album was often focused on a driving acoustic sound.

What impressed me about this song was its slow and gradual build. There is no verse-chorus-verse structure here, but a steady build to a guitar climax. There are a lot of well-recorded instrumental bits flitting across the mix. Lots of melodic and harmonic guitar lines stretching out here, creating the kind of sense of space you got from really good early U2 and other post-punk bands of that style.

‘You Belong To Me’ has a similar mixture of guitar textures and pleading vocals. So far, the lyrics have been focused mostly on love thematics, which is fine. There’s a sitar-sound-alike in this song that highlights the refrain ‘you belong to me’ quite well. A psychedelic haze hangs over this…though that haze lifts on ‘Portland,’ the singalong of the album that has a simple drive and some wordless rhythm vocals at points. A bit of a bright spot on the album, positioned in a comfortable area in the center.

The next two songs highlight the quirky diversity of the EP, one that pleases me, but which may annoy those who demand more thematic unity in their albums. ‘Think On It’ is a placid near ambient ballad that features grumbling guitar textures mixed quite low.

And now for something completely different with ‘Can’t Believe.’ This is, of all things, a type of funk rocker that feels ripped from the mid-70s. With squiggly synthesizer lines dancing about and extended guitar solos, this is the high-energy standout of the album. It does feel somewhat at odds with the more low-key songs before it, but not in a drastic way. This fact is helped by the song being a lot of fun.

As ‘Broken Pieces’ brings the album to an end, we are treated to another dynamic track of varied guitar tones, bleeping synthesizers, and a more thorough method of composing, rather than the simple repetitions required by the average pop song. That particular point is the one that really unites the music on this album: a desire to take chances and experiment in a manner that isn’t avant-guard or impossible to understand, but which will be pleasing to listeners.

The one thing that wasn’t to my taste was the singing. It’s not that he does a bad job on the album. Far from it. In tune and diverse, he definitely works well for the music. It’s a personal taste issue here; one that I can admit may be unique to me. It wasn’t enough to make me give the album a downgrade, though.

The promise of these six tracks has me interested to see what this band does next. With a higher budget and more room to stretch out, they could do some interesting things within the rock format. I think they should be on the radar of anyone who likes their rock in an alternative vein.

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