Music Review: Goodbye Blues

It always leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when one witnesses a favorite band demolish their career with one album. Having been a fan of Indie pop band Hush Sound for some time, I certainly tasted something awful in late March when the band released its third album, titled “Goodbye Blues.” The band’s first two albums earned it some well-deserved fame. With hits like “Crawling Towards the Sun,” the debut album “So Sudden” led the band toward the niche found in its second album, “Like Vines.” Jazzy vocals, male and female, soared in solos as well as cleverly constructed duets amid a backdrop of the female singer’s catchy piano, making “Like Vines” a truly splendid album. Each song was unique as well as musically sound; with stellar showings such as “We Intertwined,” “Wine Red” and “Sweet Tangerine,” the album almost created a genre of its own. Either the band members have completely lost their musical innovation since 2006, or the tragically awful album “Goodbye Blues” is merely the unfortunate result of horrible production. The title is ironic, because the album certainly has plenty of blues influence, but badly produced blues music is anything but a good listen. A piercing, scratchy guitar refuses to cease throughout the album and frequently covers up the piano, the musical element that originally created the band’s identity. Even though the rhythms in their previous albums were often simple, “Goodbye Blues” lacks the whimsical lyrics, pleasant harmonies and memorable choruses of the band’s two previous albums. Perhaps more importantly, the album has a glaring lack of variety. Each song sounds exactly the same as the last, following the basic formula of female vocals, simple rhythms and bouncy melodies. I have listened to the album several times now, and I can say with confidence that if someone played me a song from the album at random, I would not be able to identify it or even its general chronological place in the album. One of the elements that made “Like Vines” such a success was the slightly auto-tuned vocals of male guitarist Bob Morris, something that was almost completely eliminated in “Goodbye Blues.” There are only three songs featuring Morris’s vocals in the album’s excessive 15. This imbalance, especially considering the lack of variation among the songs with female vocals, creates a sort of uniform, uninteresting feel that permeates the album. Moreover, the songs with male vocals are of such poor musical quality that instead of serving as a respite from the soporific repetitiveness of the tireless female voice, they are merely a brief, rude awakening from the nightmarish travesty of the rest of the album. “As You Cry” sounds as amateur as an imitation of “Sweet Tangerine” made by a cover band of high school students who decided to put their “own twist” on the song. The guitar solo that closes the song sounds like it’s being played by a guitar student during his first lesson, and its feedback-filled ending is perplexing and uncharacteristic of the band. However, it would be misleading to say that the album is entirely without redemption. There is one strong link in the weak chain of 15 songs, which happens, not surprisingly, to be the only song where the band chooses to keep it simple and return to their roots. “Hurricane,” the fifth song on the album, sounds like something off of “So Sudden,” consisting merely of Greta Salpeter’s vocals and pianos. Ambient chimes, pretty vocals and catchy melodies remind listeners of why they bought the album in the first place. Additionally, the chorus of “Medicine Man” is quite good, but the terrible verses and once again irritating guitar prevent the song from becoming another strong spot in the album. It is really a shame that these previously excellent musicians failed so miserably in this album. Embarrassingly enough, the Panic at the Disco album, also released in recent months, trounced and upstaged The Hush Sound at the genre The Hush Sound had previously perfected. I recommend that fans purchase the song “Hurricane,” but refrain from buying the rest of the album; it’s really not a worthy addition to anyone’s music library. I sincerely hope that poor reviews and sales will make the band members aware of their failure, and that by the time their next album is released, “Goodbye Blues” will be considered a fluke in their otherwise excellent repertoire.