The Sapiens - Vs. the Hornet
Record Label: HEYOU! Records
Release Date: May 29, 2007
Chicago’s rock quintet The Sapiens' second EP entitled Vs. the Hornet shows the band’s chops for arousing ‘70s post-punk brashness and kinetics reminiscent of vintage Elvis Costello, but with modern rock shavings reflective of Baby Teeth, Hot Hot Heat, and Bloc Party. The vocal wails of lead singer Evan Sears have the emotive clutching of The Who’s Roger Daltrey as the spontaneous synth effects and sleek keyboard phrases of Matt Witt fill in the spaces between the roguish guitar licks of Charlie Nadler and the rumbling dance-rock grooves of the rhythm section by bassist David Veller and drummer David Fine. The Sapiens show themselves to be a band that likes their rock with raw edges and vocals with an untamable spirit and uncontained heat. Produced by Chris Harden, the EP has a retro rock feel, but after a while I grew to appreciate the band’s post-punk gusto and rough finish.
Starting the disc off with the rip roaring tune “Push Me,” The Sapiens set the stage for a rock fest that includes heady rhythmic slamming and rabid vocal shredding. The underbelly of synths on “Fill the Void” create a melodic-pop bedding that holds up the dance-rock pulses which recall of Bloc Party and Hot Hot Heat. Tracks like “Every Corner” and “Cry” deliver melodic movements with gusto while shaping slopes that take the listener on a wild ride. “Desperate Measures“ has emotive vocals that clutch the melody with the tight squeezing action of The Who‘s Roger Daltrey, while the final track “Waitress, Waitress” has a melodic rock fare that puts a modern twist on ‘70s post-punk trimmings. The keyboard sequences which endow “Waitress, Waitress” with a glazy, dreamy feel, transpire into a bedroom-pop texturing liken to Baby Teeth. It is the track that is most likely to succeed by combining the best of the band’s ability to produce retro rock textures with modern rock fastenings.
The Sapiens' current release Vs. the Hornet is the follow up to their debut disc Sorry, We Don’t Make the Rules from 2006. Their music revives the raw, unchained energy that catapulted rock artists like Elvis Costello and The Who while incorporating a dance-rock vibe reflective of modern bands like Hot Hot Heat and Bloc Party. The Sapiens' effort is admirable, but there is a lot more room for growth. Their music is attractive, but it has its limitations as the band gears it towards a retro feel with punk-rock verve. A full length album for The Sapiens can either prove to be mundane and repetitive or highly productive for them depending on where they choose to tap into their creative resources.