Upon first listen, the simple structures and soft melodies of Sundress' new Fever EP may come off as a bit wearisome or even sleep-inducing—perfectly fitting for the dream-pop label that the group hasn't managed to shake since even before threats of lawsuits forced the band to change their name not once, but twice. (See: This Old House, ODYSSEY).
But even though the album's lack of diversity (especially in tempos) is not without criticism, simply writing off Sundress' brand of tranquil, mellifluous tones as monotonous would be a mistake.
While the song structures aren't built around the all-too-familiar verse-chorus-verse formula—nor rife with chord changes—the blustery affairs on Fever are often more akin to embryonic two-chord mini operas whose bread and butter lie with ever-changing dynamics that swell and decline with effortless fluidity. On tracks like the standout "Islands," which harkens back to OK Computer-era Radiohead, the brilliant, if understated, guitar work carefully manages to carve out richly layered textures over a lush post-post-emo, atmospheric-pop landscape that is more akin to music being created across the pond than in our own backyard.
With songs that effortlessly segue into one another, the biggest factor unifying the EP's seven tracks is definitely the striking clarity and smooth delivery of singer Ryan McAdams' beautiful vocals.
Considering the band's previous naming misfortunes, one can never be sure that its Sundress tag will last. But the one thing becoming more apparent is that this collection of musicians, armed with one of the area's best vocalists, is closer than ever to finding its legs and becoming a staple of the local scene.
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