EP Review: String Machine – ‘Turn Off Anything On Again’

Posted: by The Editor

String Machine’s Hallelujah Hell Yeah was one of our top records at The Alt last year—a gorgeous and expansive half hour of kitchen-sink Americana that garnered a slew of comparisons to the trendy indie-folk of the Obama era (even though String Machine’s music was always far more interesting than the comparisons to those bland tunes that soundtracked microbreweries across America ten years ago). Today, String Machine is back with Turn Off Anything On Again, a collection of three tracks that adds a more electronic strain to their chaotic-yet-beautiful sound.

Opener “Misfire” kicks off with that new electronic feeling immediately, as pulsating synths dominate the first few seconds of the track before the rest of the band kicks in with a boot-kicking sway. The synths and dirtier electric guitars blend so well with the country vibes of the tune that it becomes easy to imagine the group recording in a rustic barn, synths on top of hay bales. String Machine don’t stop there with the combination of styles as at one point Laurel Wain’s crystal clear vocals are followed by a sax solo that wouldn’t be out of place on an E Street Band outtake.

Opening with a lovely bit of acoustic fingerpicking slowly borne out by the rest of the band’s subtle additions, “Out Loud” is more in line with what you’d expect from Hallelujah Hell Yeah. But again, there’s a little more sonic experimentation as playful auxiliary percussion floats and flits around the mix, forming a nice contrast with the steady, gorgeous interjections from the cello and trumpet. All three tunes show off David Beck’s strength as a songwriter, but it’s the closer “I See You The Same” that stands out most, with the group quieting down the futuristic synths to make sure you catch Beck and Wain singing “every single night slowly hides from the day / but all I want from life is to have it my way / with my patience running thin / I’ve burned through my wick / I see you the same / I feel you changing” in what is also the strongest melody on EP.

It’s the kind of rollicking melody that also saturated Hallelujah Hell Yeah, and the group’s pushing of their sonic boundaries only pays off here with the open, ringing drums clashing perfectly with the steely synths. In that way, “I See You The Same” is a fitting closer for Turn Off Anything On Again, as String Machine is able to throw an endless list of ingredients into the stew, but nothing overpowers or cancels anything else out in these hearty tunes.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Turn Off Anything On Again is streaming everywhere today.

Aaron Eisenreich | @slobboyreject

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