Thriving Ivory - Thriving Ivory
Record Label: Wind-Up Records
Release Date: November 30, 2002; June 24, 2008 (reissue)
There are no “sure things” in the music industry. Sometimes a band seems to do everything right and, for some reason, they just don’t strike a chord with the public and become a commercial failure. Still, it will come as a great surprise if Thriving Ivory doesn’t break through in a big way with their self-titled major label debut. The band worked with hit-making producers Chris Manning (Third Eye Blind, Santana) and Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, The All-American Rejects), and the professional touch definitely shows. This album is brimming with mainstream hit potential.
The most distinct quality of Thriving Ivory’s music is lead singer Clayton Stroope’s soaring vocal. He has an incredible range and, unlike many singers who seem to favor either the higher or lower register, he seems comfortable utilizing all of it. Much of the album features Stroope in the middle of his range, but he hits stratospheric highs in a few choruses, most notably on “Alien.” His vocals do have a potentially polarizing quality, a unique timbre that some listeners may be put off by, at least at first.
Graceful piano melodies and shimmering guitars form the backdrop for Stroope’s powerful voice. It’s well produced and frankly, it sounds great, but there is nothing about the music that would make any of these songs stand out as singularly Thriving Ivory songs. Pianist Scott Jason’s lyrics are also standard pop-rock fare and are on the cheesy side at times, like on the first single “Angels on the Moon,” which seems just a little too heartfelt and aimed at making middle-aged soccer moms swoon.
While Thriving Ivory are not bringing anything new to the table, sticking squarely within the mainstream pop-rock formula, they are simply better than the sea of similar sounding bands. Often a band will become huge on the strength of a strong single or two, but are ultimately disappointing because their full-album release is mostly filler. This is not the case with Thriving Ivory. Every track sounds like a hit single, from the anthemic opener “Runaway,” to the closing ballad “Day of Rain.” The album is heavy with ballads and mid-tempo numbers, but that’s just the band playing to their strengths.
Despite its artistic shortcomings, this album is maddeningly likable. While your critical side might tell you that this music is generic and has no redeeming value, when the album ends, you want to play it over again. Thriving Ivory demonstrate mastery of writing soaring melodic hooks that you can’t hate, no matter how much you want to. Rarely does a debut sound so poised to take the music world by storm. While there may be no “sure things,” this may be as close as it gets.
Agree wholeheartedly. Its an incredible CD from an incredible band that are a bunch of incredible guys.
They also put on an awesome live show.
The superlatives are limitless with this band.
They have practically six or seven radio-ready songs on this album and I too will be shocked if they aren't huge soon.
Vh1 already has them ready as a You Oughtta Know artist, they are already being heard on radio.
Superstardom is hopefully imminent!
Great review, but, as mentioned in the review, some people are put off a bit by the vocals :(
If a listener doesn't have the ability to intake such diverse vocalizations with an open mind, they're not worthy of this album anyway. Don't be disappointed by the abundance of mediocrity some people's tastes have acquired. Just look at it as their loss.