Sound — 8
I Used To Be A Sparrow is a band that can be easily explained as a meeting point between the roomy, massive vibe of stadium rock and the urgency and grit of a garage band. Their debut album, "Luke" features 11 songs, each one exploring a different mood or musical direction, while maintaining a common watermark. The record starts with "Cambodia", short intro that opens up with a powerful instrumental blast, bleeding into the single "Life Is Good", perhaps one of the most representative songs of the band's sound, where harmonies and loud guitar are leading the songs without imposing to much on them, leaving space for the vocal lines to build memorable melodies. "Smoke" and "Let Go" showcase a more digitalized approach, mostly relying on synth, samples and looped guitars, only to bring back the natural, overdriven sound of the electric guitars in "Hawaii", who's main riff has got an intense indie rock flavor to it, reaching the climax at the end, just to bleed in the calm "Lovers On The Moon", a soothing and dreamy lullaby. "Moby Dick", hits for his simple arrangements and heartfelt lyrics, while "Luke" is shockingly different: a free form noise-guitar interlude that culminates in a impressive and really unexpected acapella mantra. From this point on, the record seem to take an unexpected turn, confirmed by the nocturnal "give it up", where acoustic guitars are strummed to the tight beat of a drum machine. Copenhagen once again brings back the "full band" sound that characterized the first half of the record, just with a slightly darker mood, culminating with the short closing number "Alaska", a rough garage rock influenced tune.
Lyrics — 9
It might seem boring or cheesy saying that most (if not all) of the songs in the record are essentially love songs, but in the case of I Used To Be A Sparrow, a love song doesn't really mean a honey overdose: The lyrics face personal feelings with a great insight, using a lot of metaphors and painting a lot of charming pictures, but speaking very directly when needed, getting right to the point.
Overall Impression — 8
I Used To Be A Sparrow manages to stay fresh and easy while delivering challenging material, full of personality and clever arrangements. Catchy like Coldplay or Snow Patrol, but intimate and personal like The Appleseed Cast, Explosions In The Sky or The Gaslight Anthem.