I love this band and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It doesn’t make me biased – if anything, it makes me want to see/hear them stretch themselves into a new direction after their last few records – especially the masterful Be Nice, Be Careful, which I reviewed here a few years ago. The band, which comprises of the three Kelly brothers, Brendan (lead guitar) and older twins Sean (lead vocals/guitar) and Dominic (drums) and thunderbassist Shaun Rhoades, are now signed to M-Press Records, have built and opened their own studio, Low Watt Recording in Savannah, Georgia, and it’s safe to say these guys – who have been at it a LONG time – are now making their move into the ascent. I interviewed Sean and Dominic for Popdose not too long ago, and the enthusiasm they had for this upcoming album whetted my own appetite quite nicely – happy to say, that they were almost too modest about what they thought might be something good – this is simply stunning. And I guess I should mention a few of the guests who appear on this work – how about Joan Baez (yes, you read correctly), The Indigo Girls, Vicki Peterson of The Bangles and John Cowsill (yes, you read correctly again).
So let’s talk about Make Me Over, this brand new collection of thirteen songs (and their fifth studio album overall). Kicking off with the “lead” and title track, “Make Me Over (Noddy Holder)”, a quasi-tribute to the Slade frontman, the first note of merit is a harder-rocking sound, moving into a very ’70’s riff-rock vibe, but melodic as fuck, ballsy and water-tight harmonies on the chorus – a very fine start, indeed. “Tie Me Up Again” with its almost-symphonic structure, layered vocals and atmospheric dramatics is a major leap for Sean Kelly as a lead singer – a maturity, power and emotion that you cannot help but feel as he puts it across so clearly; “One Of Two, Two Of Three” has some subtle and beefy horns and very strong touches of The Beach Boys, not only in terms of vocals and arrangement but of overall structure (a word I believe these men understand as the key component of quality songwriting) and “Tell Me How To Feel” with a very tasty 12-string Rickenbacker twang and slightly-skewed melody with explosive drums has an XTC-aura (English Settlement-era) and is one of the most lush sounding things this band has done yet. The subdued spaciousness of “In My Mind” recalls Peter Holsapple’s masterpiece “Moving In Your Sleep” to me; “Can’t You Hear Me?” is a slice of crisp, up-tempo pop with flashes of Cheap Trick crossed with R.E.M. (!) and “One Way Ticket” is a quasi-psychedelic/boogie groover that ends the album in spectacular fashion.
The absorption of so many varied influences has given an enormous palette for A Fragile Tomorrow to paint with and they’ve used multiple colors to layer this musical canvas with an incredible array of sounds. If you think what I’ve said is bluster, forget it. Get your hands on this album and listen to it because I’m satisfied in knowing that once you do, you won’t stop listening to it for days and days. And then you’ll be turning others on to A Fragile Tomorrow. Which is my point. Everyone needs to know this band. And I mean EVERYONE.
Make Me Over will be released on Friday, October 16, 2015