In the year 2016 there are more articles, list-icles, editorial op-eds, and more, discussing the increasing loss of defined genres in today’s music landscape. There’s an abundance of reasons why this loss of rigidity is good for not only the music industry but for future artist development and the scope of wider overall creativity in the arts. However, there’s occasionally a big reason to establish and maintain some level of identifiable boundary, lest the result leads to a musical framing that makes a band appear without direction or worse, in conflict with itself.
Missing Sibling, a five piece band out of Dallas, TX, just released a new, eponymous, full length effort and the record quite unfortunately falls into this kind of blurred out category.
Following a two track EP titled Commiserate, released in May of 2015, this next self-titled release comes via Idol Records and gives listeners a total of 10 tracks to work through. While not actually impacting the literal sounds heard when one begins to play the album, part of Missing Sibling’s very first issue with this release is the impression handed to new listeners via the written word.
Positioning themselves as a band under the indie pop / indie rock / alternative umbrellas, right from the start it sounds like that’s what is being provided, given the upbeat tempo, slightly jangly guitar tone and an easy to digest hook that might even take the opening track, “Always,” into a touch of surf rock territory à la The Kickstand Band of Detroit, MI. It’s pleasant enough to make any sunny, spring day, that much more enjoyable. Not very far into the music though, once the vocals kick in, the easily enjoyed pleasantries get an aggressive push aside, in favor of a rather undressed vocal that reflects a more pop-punk style of singing and delivery that not only clashes with the rest of the elements but falls short on basics like harmonic resolution with notes that are sung significantly far from where one would expect the main melody to go, doing so in quite a few of the album’s tracks. Throwing curveballs like these feels rather off-putting upon first exposure.
The battle between the band’s instrumental cohesion and the disjointed vocals remains for a good majority of the album. New elements and a change in the former’s arrangements provide the eponymous record with enjoyable compositional variety, such as the emphasis on a lazer-esque synth introduced in the hook of the track, “If You Quit.” Still, even then, thoughts of bands in the vein of chiptune / video games stylization and an energy that resonates Anamanguchi circa the “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” soundtrack, unintentionally make things feel like they lack an overall direction.
It becomes difficult to figure out if the disconnect is purely due to relativity in sonic perspective (an indie pop band that sounds too punk?) or, if even with a change in promoted genre, Missing Sibling would still struggle to find its stride with this album. (Is it a matter of straightforward pitchy-ness that would be noted regardless of the band’s stylistic framing toward listeners?) It’s a shame the singing doesn’t appear to line up with the band’s non-vocal parts because there are some fun riffs and beats drizzled among the mismatching. (Listen to the steady but balanced rock and roll vibe in the quick two minute track, “Color Inside The Lines.”)
Certainly there are places on the immensely wide spectrum of all music where tonal meticulousness is not a point of primary concern and the songs that come from bands devoted to such styles are praised and their music loved by many. Consequently, this is not to say singing need be done in only a very specific fashion or be deemed wrong. Rather, given the tonal clarity and balanced execution demonstrated by Missing Sibling’s instrumental choices, the exposed, pop-punk, more nasal vocal quality and melodic mis-fires really do hurt the record as a complete work, as opposed to when one is merely assessing the music as isolated components.
Missing Sibling is:
Drew Gabbert (Guitar, Vocals)
Todd Walker (Bass, Vocals)
Steph Buchanan (Guitar, Vocals)
Kevin Buchanan (Synthesizer)
Josh Hoover (Drums)
Keep up with Missing Sibling through their official website and these social media platforms: