Whenever I first hear a band that does not conform to the bromidic classifications of a normal rock genre, I immediately explore some category to place the band in, although such a fastidious task is often misguided. Not all bands fit any category though. Such is the case for Boston-based Art Decade, the spawn of the Berklee School of Music mixed with pop overtones.
Art Decade is different, and I like change. Different, though, is only one part of new, exciting music. The tunes need to be good. Fortunately, Art Decade has this covered. On my first listen through their debut album, Western Sunrise, I was immediately shocked by the maturity and complexity of the compositions, but this confusion was satisfied when I observed the talent producing the music (more on this later).
Art Decade is to the 21st century what Electric Light Orchestra/Queen was to the Classic Rock genre. ELO and Queen were some of the pioneers of Symphonic Rock bands of the 1970s. This sub-genre evolved from the Progressive Rock movement (encompassing such bands at the Moody Blues and Emerson Lake & Palmer). Symphonic rock, though, took the sound of Prog/Rock and focused attention to modeling classical compositions and instrumentation and musical complexity. ELO, led by the venerable Jeff Lynne, took this concept and added pop melodies. Thus, the music was intelligent and accessible. Queen also emerged from Prog/Rock and added its own flavor on Symphonic Rock.
Flash forward to the late 20th century and early 21st century, and power/pop bands like Fun, Muse, Guided By Voices, Fountains of Wayne, and Keane bathe listeners with a wall of pop rhythms. Fun, specifically, focuses on creating a world of theatrical pop, an ode to the upbeat sounds of ELO and Queen.
Art Decade has combined Symphonic Rock and Power Pop into an amalgamated super genre of Classical Rock/Pop, which, although some may label it as Indie, is far more compound. The music is multifaceted and intelligent. It is effervescent and enjoyable. It has elements of hard rock, classical music, pop, and a whole lot more pushed into tracks, like a clown car of material – 15 clowns get out and you are wondering how the band fit so many elements into their music. And its clean. It is so tight and well manufactured. It is skillful.
It also makes sense considering that Art Decade’s guitarist/vocalist/arranger Ben Talmi grew up on a diet of classical music and attended Berklee School of Music.
“A strong musical education can do many things to a musician, oftentimes people become jaded with their acquired musical knowledge, becoming frustrated with the state of popular music and its general lack of musical depth,” said Talmi in a press release for Art Decade’s debut release. “Others are unable to escape the education and end up producing very indulgent and selfish music. I truly hope to take what I have learned and apply it in a very mature way.”
“Western Sunrise” is a multifarious piece that implements several classical elements into waves of remarkable instrumentation and mellifluous sounds culminating in a repeated diapason; all wrapped up neatly by a powerful vocal and music video that plays with the ocean motif and a colorful, pointillism-like construction. Oh, and it’s accessible for all ears. The song features so many elements that at some points I think I am listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra and at other points I think I am listening to Keane. The music oscillates with such precision. I must credit the entire band for this magical composition.
Here is the Pt. 2 of “Western Sunrise,” another sprawling symphonic piece that flows with creative strings, vocals, piano, and other instrumentation. In some ways I am reminded a bit of Paul McCartney’s work with Wings.
I am excited to hear more from Art Decade, a band that I’m sure you all will be hearing more about in the future.