[28 March 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
The acoustic performance is trickier than it seems. The fundamental approach can sometimes yield performances that are intimate and, at their best, offer a new context for the way we hear songs we thought we already knew. However, all too often acoustic performances can slip into something overly simple and drowsy. Unfortunately, Happy Hour at Sprigg’s falls into that drowsy camp. As a companion piece to the band’s latest album, Buzzard, it is at first an interesting counterpoint to the moody power-pop of that record. After the first few hushed strums, though, none of these songs offers much in the way of surprises. The songs taken from that record, particularly opener “Will You Love Me Forever?”, feel thin without the album’s buzzing layers, and laid bare the melodies don’t quite hold up. New songs like “There’s a Freakshow Downtown” feel like they didn’t make the record for a reason, since it’s hard to tell where they’re going without other instruments to help fill them out. This isn’t to say that this isn’t a heartfelt performance—the feeling in Richard Edwards’s voice nearly keeps the set afloat—it’s just that it doesn’t add anything to the songs on the album and mostly leaves you missing what’s not there rather than investing in what is.