The Ugly Club - Sing What You Want EP
Record Label: Now and Ever Records
Release Date: Dec. 19, 2009
Euphoric. That's the best way to describe Sing What You Want, the five song EP from New Jersey's The Ugly Club. Comprised of ex-members of The Command Radio, Socratic and Beale Street, Love, the sextet crafts indie-soul that comes across as an amalgamation of Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles and Ray Charles. Having formed just six months ago, the band has already shared the stage with headliners Third Eye Blind, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to name a few. From the get-go their debut EP bristles with captivating hooks, shimmering pop arrangements and distinct melodies. Rather than focus on studio wizardry, the band instead takes a rawer and simpler approach. Aside from the assault of trumpet and trombone, there's no layers of sonic gauze and the band harnesses their collective power impeccably. With a thick blend of rumbling bass, languorous phrasing and hypnotic horns, the music is memorable, infectious and dynamic.
Album opener "Claim Somebody," is a vernal exercise that's inspired, peppy and ebullient. Vocalist Ryan Egan boasts commanding vocals that tug and pull with each intonation and turn of phrase. Regardless of what he's singing, there's a centripetal force with each word he utters. That his verses work stride for stride with the urgent guitarwork makes the song that much better. "The Limbo of Sasha Ipei," furthers that notion as its mid-tempo structure loops, ducks and swirls around playful horns and sprite guitarwork. On "Step To Me," the band puts their best foot forward with a near-perfect ode to hooking up. Equal parts sassy, sexy and self-congratulatory, "Step to Me" is arguably one of the best songs written about the subject in quite some time. Fourth track, "Follows the Sound," features drowsy vocals from Egan that sound more like boozy wiles than desperate longing. The EP rests on the mid-tempo offering "Song From a Paterson Apartment," which is pure, unadulterated hypnotic pop.
For all their sonic accomplishments, the sextet is just as crafty with the written word. Lyrically, Sing What You Want is romantic, intelligent and introspective. Whether its the promise of hooking up ("Step To Me") or the lure of companionship ("Claim Somebody"), the group knows how to be colorful, heartfelt and winsome. While The Ugly Club possesses a definitive swagger and confident polish that belies their years, nothing about the disc is pouty or pretentious. In fact, the very core of Sing What You Want is that it isn't over-the-top, in-your-face or offensive. This is immaculate, impassioned pop that has the right amount of grit and melody to imbue each song with sincere conviction.
This is an EP chock full of rich, hook-laden choruses with warm textures and songs that seemed prime for commercial radio. Make no mistake about it, The Ugly Club is the kind of band male teenagers envy and teenage females dream about. And with an effort this strong, it's only a matter of time before lines will be too long, ticket pre-sales will sell out and their faces will be ever-present.