Sound — 8
When you see indie rock in the genre column of the band description, you never know what to expect. So many freaks can hide under the two words. A band from California Sherwood is adding to the list of musicians of a mystical genre. A Different Light is their second PL and in this case indie rock can be deciphered as pop rock. Sherwood formed in 2002 while some of it's members were still in the University. After a quite successful debut record Sing, But Keep Going in 2005 the founding guitarist left, but the band kept going, constantly switching guitarists meanwhile. When the time came to release a sophomore album, Sherwood had enough deals from record labels, but surprisingly chose newly formed Myspace Records (our future is fully digital, no doubt now). Calling the Beach Boys the biggest influence, Sherwood decided to work on the album in the house right on the ocean in Mexico to deliver a similar vibe. A Different Light shines with an optimism and energy hard not to notice. Almost every second song is a sing-along with a large chorus. The rest of the album consists of upbeat songs that create a joyful mood of the album. A lot of tracks might be pretty simple and alike in songwriting, but I should admit, the guys have tried to create a different something in every track, varying them by all possible ways. I guess a huge thank you here should be said the producer Lou Giordano (Taking Back Sunday, Sunny Day Real Estate). Most of songs are very dynamic, featuring drum breaks and even claps to multiply effect. Even though the music is based on guitars, those are drums that really drive the songs. They are pounding in faster song like Give Up and computer-made in the easy-going tracks (Alley Cat, Alive). The songs have catchy melodies that easily penetrate into your head, next thing you know you can't get rid of some tune for the rest of the day. Half of the songs from the album can easily become hits with a certain amount of radio plays every day.
Lyrics — 7
This is what it feels to be 24 -- just one line from their lyrics describe the whole poetry. Here's a pack of emotions of a 24-year-old: relationship, relationship, relationship. Sherwood cope with simple lines pretty good and don't even sound trite, but fail when it comes to something more difficult and thoughtful. Something like And there's a feeling in the morning/ that I can get my stomach screams a warning -- not a very good line to start a song with. The guys flourish their poetry with semi-philosophical lines like If you never blink, you'll never feel your eyes, If you never think, you'll never change your mind and If you not stop running, you can never breathe. Vocalist Nate Henry has a strong voice, but nothing extraordinary to be excited about. It's obvious the main target of the band are teenage girls, looking for someone to fall in love with. But maybe there are more than enough romantic moments on the record. Sometimes they overact it as Henry sounds too sensitive and pity, crooning I'm too in love with you. And those Beach Boy-like back vocals are wonderful, but don't always go along with heavy guitars.
Overall Impression — 8
Sherwood is one of those bands that make danceable music you can't actually dance to. All you're left with is tapping your foot and nodding your head, looking like an idiot in the headphones. Even though A Different Light is a record full of pop cliches, it doesn't sound annoying, which is a big achievement by itself. It is surely not the most sophisticated or stand-out record when it comes to the recent releases, but it's a well-done album power pop album -- a thing not too often to appear nowadays. The album has a Cali-careless mood and could make a great soundtrack for your summer. The record earns half of the points just for putting the listener in a happy mood!