Roses are red, violets are blue, Sucré is sweet and so is A Minor Bird.
A Minor Bird
Label: Red Velvet
Time: 11 tracks / 38:51 minutes
Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia.
Sucré is French for sugar.
Sucré is a band formed by Eisley's Stacy King, MuteMath's Darren King, and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Larson. If you figure we're most interested in option number three you can give yourself a gold star.
You almost have to hope that, at some point in their romance, Darren walked up to Stacy and suggested that they might make beautiful music together – it would just work so well in the story of A Minor Bird, the debut project from Sucré. The combination of Stacy's ethereal, transporting vocals, Darren's textured percussion and Larson's haunting chamber-pop string arrangements create a musical confection that's an audio delight for the musical gourmet. Light and tasty, but with plenty of substance.
To not mention the occasional sonic similarities to Eisley and, to a lesser extent, MuteMath, would be ignoring the 500 pound crème brulee in the middle of the room. Less pop-ish than Eisley and more delicate and elegant than the earthy, visceral MuteMath, Sucré does indeed show elements of both of those bands, but with a nod in the direction of Sufjan Stevens, Bjork, and Cryptacize as well.
The atmospheric, often dreamy songs are tightly structured but are not about hooks – there's an almost stream-of-consciousness quality to the lyrics, and the melodies are as light and delicate as – well, as flakes of sugar. Stacy's vocals range from a transparent singing whisper to a plaintive cry, emerging as a genuine pop vehicle in spots - especially on "Say Something," on the oh-ohh-ohh-oh-ohh, yeah vamp. There are hints of Bjork phrasing on "Chemical Reaction," "Persuasion," and "No Return," the last vocal also sounding a bit like the crystalline vocal style of Nedelle Torrisi, of Cryptacize.
Of course Darren King's creative input is evident in the undercurrent of subtle but intricate percussion and the occasional 'MuteMath-ish' sounds lurking here and there (listen to the last 20 seconds or so of "Chemical Reaction" for a good example). The percussion in the opening of "Troubled Waters" shows of King in a restrained but powerful role as an indispensable one-third of this creative team. The same song also shows a subtle but definite influence by Sufjan Stevens, if only on an almost subliminal level.
Larson's work is, of course, outstanding. Swoops, flourishes, Asian-sounding phrases, and sweet solo lines coaxed out of his layered strings work perfectly with the studied piano parts and what sounds like the occasional warm bed of brass. Without liner notes, I can only guess at the variety of instruments Larson used on the project.
Dead-center at track six, Sucré gives us four minutes of purely brilliant pop music in "Say Something," a Beatle-esque pop masterpiece featuring strong piano and a fine Ringo-inspired drum entrance by Darren. Strings, brass sounds and a brilliantly-mixed vocal make this an immediately accessible track – no doubt the most commercial song on a collection of fine, but certainly eclectic compositions.
Stacy's voice soars gently and reaches the heights on "Endless Sleep," an intricately-composed piece with fine solo string work by Larson and rich, beautiful chord changes.
Very much an 'end' track is the contemplative, "The Cliff Waltz," starting out like a piano etude, bringing us to a very logical place at the end of this project.
A Minor Bird gives you a lot of fine music to listen to – definitely a contemplative project, but not so lofty as to leave you scratching your head. Sucré is off to a fine start – satisfying the musical appetite, but you'll be waiting for more as soon as you can get some.....
- Bert Saraco