Rhythm & Views


Chicago's Singer is not your average rock band. Composed of two members of genre-jammers U.S. Maple (Todd Rittman on guitar and Adam Vida on drums), Rob Lowe of 90 Day Men on bass, and Vida's brother Ben--who also serves in jazzy minimalist combo Town and Country--on keys and guitar, the group has produced a debut album that breathes new life into the possibilities of rock music.

Singing is usually reserved for a songwriter or charismatic frontman, or eschewed altogether in favor of instrumentals, but Singer synthesizes these ideas by giving all four members vocal duties simultaneously, which results in an added instrument and allows the other instruments to meander freely without dropping off the edge of the song.

The seven tracks here are best heard as one piece, as they blend into one another effortlessly and unannounced, with the approach seeming to be an emphasis on movement rather than merely keeping time. On leadoff track "Slow Ghosts," the band quickly warm up to their stride, and don't let up once there. The drums gallop and roll, while the guitars and keys fill out the middle with texture that ebbs and flows, allowing Rittman to pursue some impressive six-string skronk, all with an element of surprise, as songs can go from being calm and subdued to crashing and climactic in an instant and without warning. Added to this are the harmonized vocals, which run the gamut from various members' baritone crooning, to wheezy whispering, to Prince-like falsetto, all without an ounce of pretension.

Singer is singing to a different, refreshing tune, one certainly worth checking out.

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