Take one listen to The Hurricane Lamps’ Tales From the Sink, and it’s no real big secret that it was mostly recorded on an 8-track in a basement. The quality is, how you say, unrefined. But, given the band’s general affinity for the work of predecessors like The Replacements and Built to Spill, the lack of fine tuning seems to fit nicely. While not a resounding musical or accomplishment, Tales From the Sink is a modest, likeable piece of kinetic rock straight out of your neighbor’s garage. Or basement, as it were.
Raw, garagey power pop best describes the band’s sound. The threesome of bassist Greg Bennett, drummer Mike Mann, and lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Tischler have a definite way with a musical construct. The songs pave a strong foundation to hold Tishler’s honest, and often bitterly sarcastic and poignant lyrics. On “The Things We Say,” he sings of a struggling relationship, “I’m giving you a sea of everlasting blue and green / And all you taste is salt.” Not enough resentment? On “The Dougherty Museum,” he sings, “So let’s to drink to old times / And maybe we can forget / That there’s nothing left but regret / Keeping us close.” Unfortunately, the power of Tischler’s lyrics are aren’t matched by equally strong vocals.
Still, “Two Bit” rocks like a Pixies classic, “I’m in Love with a Burnt-Out” is quietly engaging, and “My Girlfriend, the Cloud,” with the necessary studio gleam the entire record could desperately benefit from, has radio labeled all over it. What more could you really ask for? All right, a studio. Unfortunately, higher production values alone wouldn’t make Tales From the Sink a classic, but it’s a start.