Acrylics: Lives And Treasure Review
The new Brooklyn duo Acrylics have a sound that has been correctly summarized as a blend of 70’s AM radio with soft 80’s synthesizers. That broad characterization of their music holds true, although in delving into the bands’ debut record Lives And Treasure, it isn’t exactly consistent. While yes, band members Molly Shea and Jason Klauber undoubtedly grew up listening to some Fleetwood Mac, the range of their sound actually reaches a lot further, almost to the point of becoming erratic. On one hand you have the kind of synthy, almost mystical dance grooves that at one time ruled roller skating rinks and high school dances in the eighties. On the other you have a folkier, nearly country-rock twang. And then there’s the title track where for a few minutes everyone drops all other pretense to pretend to be the Clash.
Clash aping aside though, Lives and Treasure’s two distinct styles largely seem to break down by who takes lead vocals on each track. Shea seems to favor the synthy stuff, leading glossy singles like “Sparrow Song” and “Nightwatch,” neither of which would seem out of place on the Neverending Story soundtrack. Shea also tends towards more spacey, guileless lyricism, belting out lines like “I believe in truth / I believe in infinity” without the slightest hint of a smirk.
Klauber on the other hand tends to ground things more with his folky baritone, introspective lyrics, and more guitar-focused musicianship. At times (particularly in The Window” and “Tortoise Shell Shades”) he sounds a little bit like Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst. Where the band works best is when they manage to combine Shea’s flights of fancy with Klauber’s rootsiness for a well rounded sound in which neither artist dominates. Examples of this include “Molly’s Window” as well as “Asian Pear,” both which capitalize excellently on each contributor’s strengths. As for the rest of Lives and Treasure, Shea and Klauber definitely show signs of promise, even if the overall experience at times sounds confused and inconsistent. Acrylics definitely may be a band to look out for though if they can focus more on collaboration, and working with rather than just alongside each other’s sounds.
— Jon Behm
Lives and Treasure will be available on 1/25 via Hotsands Records