Suitcase and Umbrella

by Ben Varkentine


There’s an old Peanuts cartoon in whichh Sally enters holding a limp jump rope. When asked what’s the matter she replies that she doesn’t know, she was jumping rope, all happy and smiling…when suddenly it all seemed so futile.

As you’ve probably guessed, you being the intensely thoughtful readers that you are, this is a metaphor for my experience of Suitcase and Umbrella. Like any halfway decent album, I enjoyed it, but only as long as I was listening to it. Once it stopped, I had no compulsion to push “play” again apart from a desire to hear it more than once before writing this review. The songs (both music and lyrics) and singing are undistinguished.

cover art


Suitcase and Umbrella

(Planting Seeds)

The pop/rock die is cast (I’m speaking in cliches. Albums get the reviews they deserve.) from the opening bell sounds of “Disappear”. Even the guitar parts, which are the best part of the . . . well, there is no best part of the album. Let’s start again. Even the guitar parts, which have the most promise of potential especially on “Interstellar Secrets from the Cellar” and “Sun (Will Keep On Shining)” are repetitious and go bad almost instantly. This is, finally, nothing that handfuls of bands haven’t done before or will again. Pop history will eat Jumprope up and spit them out. Suitcase and Umbrella suffers from a lack of memorable melodies and is therefore not exactly one for the ages, not good in the way the best things your hear on the radio are good and not good in the way the things you never hear on the radio are good. In other words, it’s not good. It’s not dreadful, but it’s not good.

It’s not a failure of intent, it’s a failure of ability. Jumprope want to make winning pop music, which I do not consider to be a humble goal. It’s just that they lack the drive and so the album meanders, directionless, through its 13 songs until conclusion, working only on the most banal and superficial level.

I cannot even say, as I have on some recent disappointing review subjects, that I hear potential, for I simply don’t. I hear a band that will probably live and die an opening act taking the path most traveled to a hollow victory. This album is a concise piece of blah.


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