Music

Sweet Trip: You Will Never Know Why

Six years after Sweet Trip's indie-electronic flavorgasm Velocity : Design : Comfort, the Bay Area quartet unveils a follow-up that makes its pop predilections far more explicit, zeroing in on the hooks and magnifying them until they take center stage.


You Will Never Know Why

Aritst: Sweet Trip
Label: Darla
US Release Date: 2009-09-29
UK Release Date: 2009-08-28
Amazon

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s there to hear it, did it really fall? Recently, PopMatters writer Alan Ranta made a compelling case for why Pepe Deluxé’s Spare Time Machine should be considered some of the best music of the modern era, even though nobody was there to hear it. For my money, Sweet Trip’s sophomore effort Velocity : Design : Comfort was an undiscovered classic, one of the most natural fusions of dream-pop sensuality and sugar-rush electronics ever put to tape. Yet I became a little disconcerted after handing the record to everyone I thought would listen and finding their reactions to be decidedly mixed. For every two people who gave me a big hug and wondered how they ever lived without it, one said “no thanks” and tossed it, repelled by the electronic overload, the seven-plus-minute runtimes, and/or the intentional displays of recording damage meant to convey a certain kind of emotional profundity.

At surface level, You Will Never Know Why presents itself as the Sweet Trip album that’s finally marketable to the masses. Over the six years the San Francisco-based group took to unveil it, front man Roby Burgos steadily dropped hints about what we were in for, releasing straightforward guitar-pop numbers “Darkness” and “Your World Is Eternally Complete” on Darla compilations and a couple more tracks as demos on its Web site. The finished product confirms early speculation: Sweet Trip is now a rock band, with drummer Rob Uytingco added permanently to the lineup to cement the band's new aesthetic. Synths and electronic programming take a backseat to airy guitars, slippery bass, and reliable drumming, mirroring somewhat the intersection of indie pop and space-age bachelor pad music of the mid-1990s. Hardly a revelation, You Will Never Know Why stands tall as Sweet Trip’s second-best record. The traditional rock arrangements draw attention to the band’s easy way with beautiful, resonant pop hooks, to say nothing of their modesty, which seeps into their most agreeable songs and turns them almost gracious.

Where the record gets tricky is its bruising lyrical content, and although the clash between light music and dark lyricism has become largely passé, Sweet Trip’s take on it is still surprising. The title, You Will Never Know Why, tells all: vocalists Burgos and Valerie R. Cooper aren’t concerned with our dearth of understanding, but yours. Words of vague condemnation mingle with blunt-force lines normally screamed by grindcore bands: “Pretty soon you’re dead,” Cooper and Burgos chirp in a way that leads to believe they should be saying, “Pretty soon, we’ll be the best of friends.” This dynamic is edgy enough and it works, but other aspects of the album don’t. There are times when the sound could be richer, and the four-minute pop model grows samey as the track numbers reach double digits, although it’s the pair of interludes in the midsection that probably should have been cut. Sweet Trip is better than this -- You Will Never Know Why makes pop sound like itself, while V : D : C made pop sound greater than itself -- but the band has written a fine, accessible record that could snag them the proper audience at long last.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image