Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Album Review: I Believe In Everything by Speak

For a band that seemed perfectly content to open for cult favorite Tally Hall this summer, Speak have a sound that's delightfully marketable. In fact, I would be very surprised if I don't see one of Speak's songs in the top 40 over the next few years. Speak are a bit like taking fun. infused with disco and a bit of the showbiz dazzle of Carolina Liar ("Show Me What I'm Looking For") along with a few generous scoops of originality. Lead singer Troupe Gammage throws his voice from Bee Gees falsetto (which is a mainstay of the backing vocals) to a rich, deep voice reminiscent of David Bowie or Julian Casablancas (The Strokes). As a second or third album I Believe in Everything would be commendable. As a first album, it's flat-out impressive. I have to give these guys props even for the title, which amused me to no end prior to the album release. Combined with the album artwork, it made me think of a joke answer one might give in response to being asked their religion: "Oh, I believe in everything!" It turns out, "I believe in everything" is just a line cleverly selected from "You Know As Well As I," but it still serves as a great album title.

Those who purchased Speak's EP earlier this year will not find many surprises. That's not to imply that the album isn't original (although it does feature the tracks off of the EP), it simply means that there's no jarring "new sound" or extreme change that would make the band any less appealing. 

"Wars" is a powerful opener for the album, one that I think is ripe for remixes and dance clubs (as is true with many of the Speak tracks). From there, they launch into EP alumni and strong single "Carrie," followed by "You Know As Well As I," the song that lends its lyric to the album title. "You Know As Well As I" is catchy and sweet, with a slightly Wham-esque synth feel. From the EP, "Stand By Us" was probably my favorite, but "I'd Rather Lie" is the song that got stuck in my head last night. "Stand By Us" is a very poppy disco-type tune that brings to my mind the cover of "Stayin' Alive" I heard them do in Ann Arbor that actually made me like "Stayin' Alive." Things are calmed down for the latter half of the album, including songs like "81," which Speak performed acoustically prior to the album release in a visually and audibly beautiful video: 

Admittedly, hearing the acoustic version first made the album version a little bit less impressive to me.

Speak close the album with what I consider to be one of the weaker tracks on the album, "Too Afraid," a song that has a lot of radio marketability, but lacks some of the personality of their other songs. When the album ends, it's a slightly unexpected. I Believe in Everything is just over half an hour in length, which isn't impossibly short, but it's slightly less than average, and somewhat startlingly so. But the half an hour is packed with catchy, poppy tunes. Speak are unique enough to set them apart from the crowd, honest enough to give them musical credibility, and have a sound that's just mainstream enough to make them popular. Any way you look at it, I see a great future ahead for Speak, and look forward to their next album.

Speak are four gentlemen from Austin, Texas. Left to Right: Troupe Gammage, Nick Hurt,
Jake Stewart, and Joey Delahoussaye.

I Believe in Everything can be purchased here.

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