The Butterfly Assassins: Sylvia

[21 August 2008]

By Evan Sawdey

PopMatters Interviews Editor

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.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/the-butterfly-assassins-sylvia/