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The Butterfly Assassins

Sylvia

(Old Flame; US: 2 Apr 2008; UK: Available as import)

When the Butterfly Assassins released their self-titled EP early last year, it was an interesting if somewhat bloated affair, as this group of young kids basically decided to get together and find that elusive middle-ground between classical baroque music and home-spun prog rock. It was an interesting experiment, but it couldn’t have prepared anyone for the massive leap ahead that is their full-length debut, Sylvia. Here, they abandon all pretenses of being a young band in the MySpace generation and instead dive head first into their classical rock aspirations, at times even taking detours (albeit for only a few seconds) to Tin Pan Alley for on tracks like “Hypocratocracy”.


Yet by crossing the avant bridge that could potentially connect DeVotchKa to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the group winds up leaving behind the most important aspect to reaching their potential audience: there are absolutely no hooks to be found anywhere on this record. Yes, there are melodies, but the group is so wrapped up in their indulgent, operatic melancholy, there is little room for the listener to sneak in and join the fun, making the whole affair border dangerously close to outright pretension. Their ambitions are admirable, but their execution is horribly flawed, as one winds up leaving the disc without a single memorable song in its wake. It really is a tragedy: a band of such talent deserves songs better than this.

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Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on RevotTV's "Revolt Live!" as well as WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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