Throughout the history of pop rock I think it’s safe to say that debut albums have usually been not as good as albums by experienced bands. Don’t mistake the hype – there are certainly numerous debut albums which have been over-hyped over the years but, I think, on balance, most bands and artists do not put out their best work on their debut. They get better with age, as they should, because they have more practice. The truly great debuts are those that are not so much more professional or more mature but those that change music in some way. It’s pretty rare for a band to debut fully formed, at least in my experience.
Well, this band sounds fully formed. It is incredible to me that this record is a debut album given the level of assurance displayed by the songwriter(s) and by the musicians performing those songs. This record sounds like it was made by people who know what they were doing. Of course, it’s not really a debut, because because most of the band was in a previous band that had put out an album already, so that at least partially explains why this sounds so fully formed.
Don’t mistake the “chamber pop” tag; for chamber pop this music is edgy and exciting. It’s where I wish chamber pop had actually gone. The songs are pretty consistently catchy, if idiosyncratically named (“Piano Song” does not appear to feature a piano), Staples’ voice is memorably distinct, and the band around him just knows how to elevate the songs to new heights.
It is absolutely great stuff. The only reason I don’t recommend it more fully is that the record is just too damn long and it lags somewhere around 2/3rds through. That’s the one way you can tell it was a debut – too much material. Still, I like this band. Where have they been all my life?