Treaty of Paris – Sweet Dreams, Sucker
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Record Label: Airport Tapes & Records
It is never easy deciding which albums we will choose to review out of the multitudes we receive here at AP. But when Treaty of Paris’ Sweet Dreams, Sucker arrived, the decision was an easy one. Who wouldn’t want to take a listen to the first band signed to Andrew McMahon’s record label? So, without having heard a song from the band, I signed myself up. However, after forcing myself to listen to Sweet Dreams, Sucker for the past few weeks I am sorry to report that Treaty of Paris falls far short of expectations I had for their offering, as their LP is a mediocre offering at best.
Perhaps the hardest thing to swallow about a band like Treaty of Paris is how completely unoriginal and uninspiring they are. Now, while this is a tough tag to put on any signed band, it is even worse considering the illustrious pop pedigree that McMahon has under his own belt. The type of signing here is almost like having a gourmet chef snatching up McDonald’s franchises – it is a compromise in quality that you both wouldn’t and shouldn’t expect. I consider myself a fan of cotton candy sugar-pop much more so than most people, and even that does not make this listening experience more palatable.
Looking to the individual tracks on Sweet Dreams, Sucker – listeners will be sure to find elements that can be tallied as positives, but they are consistently buried in with the mundane that the best qualities become a chore to uncover. The first track, “Here Goes Nothing,” contains a rather catchy chorus, and is a solid, if unoriginal start to the album. After that, though – a lot less gravy. Cuts like “Quits” center around cringe-worthy lyrics (“Word on the street is your head hit the ceiling, and you’re not sure what to name your headache”) – and it’s true, while pop fans do not demand literary perfection, we still can expect better. Other songs focus on the usual suspects of pop-rock – you know - love, dreams, and the word “baby.” That kind of stuff – like on “State Tollway” and a host of others. Like I said before, though – there are still bright spots, but they tend to get overshadowed by more negative aspects. “Rollerskates” runs with a bouncy kind of doo-wop vibe that is refreshing enough, but it later decays into very by-the-numbers pop. “Elvis Lives” features a solid hook with skillfully applied vocal layerings, but its silly lyrics mar any long-term promise. When we arrive at “Tired All The Time” it is nice to hear an opening riff that speaks of some semblance of edge, but even it corrodes into what sounds like a second-rate ‘90s Lit track.
Overall, Sweet Dreams, Sucker is quite simply an underachiever. The record is bolstered by excellent, clean production from Jim Wirt but the contrived lyrics, decent but oft-whiny vocals, and average musicianship fail to elevate the band and the album to a state they might have otherwise reached. These ingredients make the LP a rather tepid, tiresome listen. I am a sucker for a good pop CD from time to time, but Treaty of Paris achieves little resonance with me.
I haven't heard this one yet, but if it really is disappointing then that's too bad. We opened for Treaty of Paris once and they were great. They've had some lineup changes since then, though, so maybe that's messed with the creative process. Maybe they'll have it ironed out next time, but I'll still give this one a shot.