Due to the explosion of do-it-yourself technologies over the past 15 years, many artists have rushed to release their first LP offering. Too many times the artists lack the maturity artistically to put forth an album that is musically strong, or lack restraint or focus resulting in albums that try to do too much, and lose continuity in their offering.
Belgium native Sabrina does not fall into this category. Euphoria is a smart, melancholy offering that shows thoughtfulness in its crafting and its composition. It is a strong showcase of the songwriting and musical talents of the group. Their sound comes through cleanly and is not forced through over-production. It is subtle, consistent, and tight.
Listing influences the likes of Marianne Faithful, Bowie, Korn, Smashing Pumpkins, and Tori Amos is indicative of the thoughtfulness of the lyrics and strong musicianship, but is overall more reminiscent of the earlier generation of minimalists who sought to create tapestries of emotion without using sledgehammers of sound. Hints of The Sundays, The Ocean Blue, and earlier non-synth-dependant New Wave artists like the Fixx and the Church abound.
The opening track I'm Alive sets the tone for the album. Interweaving doubled vocals, and a hypnotic musical backdrop. The vocals mix evenly with the sound. It sets the stage for the second track, Euphoria, nicely which showcases more of a pop-rock indie sound that lets her vocals take the forefront.
On first listen, the album appears to be conservative in regards to taking risks with sound diversity offering a homogenous mix rather than pushing hooks or harder rock sounds. On further examination, the album's diversity lies in its subtlety. The album is not a compilation of unrelated songs, but a progression from the first to the last that offers strong overall continuity.
This is showcased by careful placement of the album's highlights. Tell Me is a subtle rock influenced tune that sneaks up on you by offering its punch subtly, through its use of anti-climactic moments to perk the ear. It is a nice lead in to the next track, Without a Trace, that stands out for its use of yearning musical backdrops to frame vocals that are uncharacteristic to its sound.
Building up its sound, tempo, and subtle strength, Euphoria crescendos its emotional journey with Nowhere Girl. The remaining two tracks, Find Another and Star, are the sweetest of the album, and wind down the experience of the release. Find Another has strong New Bohemians influence for its use of syncopated acoustic-based grooves behind ethereal yet yearning vocals and lyrics. Star, an acoustic offering, is perhaps the most melancholy and nostalgic of all the pieces and rounds out Euphoria with aplomb.
Euphoria is a complete album. The individual songs enjoy introspective and emotional lyrics with music that neither takes a back seat, nor overreaches to create an emotional tapestry. The song order has been crafted as carefully as the music, creating a work that encompasses diversity, and offers the listener a complete journey musically and lyrically.
Euphoria's lack of over-wrought moments of crescendo, and the lack of saccharine emphasis on melancholy and introspective lyrics may leave some listeners feeling unchallenged. I find it to be a breath of fresh air. It requires the audience to listen and become involved with the music, which is where the challenge lies in their work.
Post: Sabrina, c/o Serip Entertainment, P.O. Box 188, Montclair, NJ, 07042