Tooth and Nail records has a unique side of it that most labels don't even bother putting an effort towards; a rough, edgy underground sound paying homage to earlier sounds of the 80's and 90's. Bands like Neon Horse, Starflyer 59, Joy Electric, Children 18:3, and even former old school band Havalina seemed to cater to one sort of genre yet managed to appeal across the board. Another alum a part of T&N's underground schema is Bon Voyage, a vintage venture that although releases their third album with Lies, just now is getting the label and promo attention it deserves.
Headed up by Starfyler 59's Jason Martin (and brother of Ronnie Martin, the brains behind Joy Electric) and Jason's wife, Julie (who sang in Havalina), this newest chapter, Lies, proves that the underground scene is still productive and can still appeal to the mainstream crowd.
Lies starts off with their much played song, "Monster," which showcases the melding styles of Joy Electric-like power pop beats and Julie's haunting lyrics (which can sometimes sound like a female version of Ronnie's). "Monster"'s strange lyrics echo and haunt the listener, but ultimately hook them into listening to the rest of album as well. "Monster" segues into "Don't Lie" which continues the jam and 80's sound along with more of the same lyrics. "Birthday" is another solid track that further darkens the mood and begins to wield a pattern of the insufficiencies of people; how often they let you down and fail you, leaving it hard to continually trust them. "Best Friend" visits the same theme but more or less regards material possessions and their inability to satisfy, while "Bad Friend" revisits the chorus and background lines of the song as a short instrumental. "Diary" takes on the same kind of poppy and bubbly spirit that "Birthday" offers, but with seemingly more positive lyrics. Unfortunately, the album disc packaging comes with no lyrics included, which is unfortunate seeing as how Julie's vocals sometimes make it a bit difficult to make out what she is trying to say.
"The Good Life" is a throwback to Julie's Havalina days and is also the first (and only) song to use actual drums rather than synthetic. "Girlfriend in a Coma" is a rather disappointing track, probably having to do with the fact that it is a cover of an old 1980's Smiths song made popular in the U.K. The song clocks just one second over two minutes and doesn't seem to fit the album's canon of style. "Bad Dream" is a further stylized remix of the song "Monster" and actually works even though it's a different take on a track on the same album. "LTD" is another synth styled instrumental that seems out of place, but it could serve as a buffer for the next and final song, "Wake Up, Make Up," which plays nicely as a closer. This one is also the most poppy sounding tune-turned-anthem that leaves the album ending on a more positive note.
Having listened to the complete album several times (it can be done in one sitting, as Lies only plays for a bit over 31 minutes total), a conclusion can easily be made. This is solid, original, and superb music. I found myself being able to digest the whole thing, without skipping songs or fast forwarding (except for "Girlfriend in a Coma") and enjoying every minute of it, no matter how short. Bon Voyage's style is exotic and probably will take some adjusting, especially if you're averse to the sound of similar artists on the T&N label. Every track on this record is catchy and deserves several go-rounds before making a decision, but eventually Julie's vocals and lyrics, coupled with Jason's beats and synths may make you stay for the entire ride.- Review date: 7/9/08, written by Zachary Anderson
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
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