It’s no secret that I am a huuuuge fan ofSirsy. So, what I’m about to say may come as a shock:
I love their new album.
(Perhaps I need to work on my shocking skills…)
Coming Into Frame is Sirsy’s fifth studio album, and their first under the Funzalo Records label. It’s also their first album produced by someone other than themselves — specifically, by another legendary duo, the Grammy-winning Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade. Kolderie and Slade have also produced albums for bands such as Radiohead, Hole, Pixies, and others. Their relationship with Sirsy began in 2010 when Kolderie remixed the band’s last album Revolution for rerelease.
I’ve loved Sirsy’s sound since I first heard them in 2009. If there’s one flaw, however, it’s been the band’s inability to capture their raw live energy on their self-produced albums, and the band has acknowledged as much. Mike Guzzo, a blogger at the Albany Times-Union, quotes Mel as saying, “Our fans have said that the energy of our live show hasn’t translated onto our previous recordings.”
Coming Into Frame changes that. As a stalker fan, I’ve seen Sirsy in almost every type of venue they play, from buzzing barroom to relaxed lounge to open-air amphitheater. (Okay, I still haven’t seen them play at the horse track in Saratoga — I may have missed my window on that one.) I’ve heard seven of the songs from this new album in such places. If Mel and Rich’s goal was to capture their live sound, they succeeded in spades.
That said, it would be a mistake to confuse this album with a setlist burned onto a CD. Thematically, it builds on what Sirsy does so well, pairing their unique indie pop sound with elements of growly blues and hard rock to produce knee-bobbing beats and genially barbed hooks that get lodged in your brain.
In one respect, Coming Into Frame seems much more upbeat than previous albums. For one thing, the earnest “Lot of Love” has the distinction being the band’s newly dubbed Happiest Song Ever — which may seem unusual to those who are familiar with Sirsy’s usual fare of irony and backhanded love songs — breaking the cheerful 11-year reign of “Whenever You’re Around” off of Away from Here. One happy song is enough, but they also included the buoyant “Red Letter Days” and perfectly sweet “Gold” — a song that seems to reflect “You” also from Away from Here.
But before I worry anyone, let me say that there’s plenty of the Sirsy that fans have come to know and love. From the the opening throb of “Cannonball” to the closing plaintive refrain of “The Cost of You,”Coming Into Frame takes listeners on a roller-coaster journey of love, loss, hope, missed opportunity, and, ultimately, recovery. Mel’s lyrics, which I have to admit are what made me a fan of the band to begin with (hey, I study literature), are chock full of clever turns of phrase and wry observations to satisfy every inner, and outer, contrarian.
The new album is available from Sirsy’s website, as well as the usual places online. That said, if you’re interested in hearing them live, perhaps even to compare their live sound to the album, there’s a good chance they’ll be near you soon. Along with this album’s release, in 2013 Sirsy is touring across the U.S. Take a look at their tour dates and be sure to sign up for their email updates to keep tabs on new shows.