A Maze Records, 2005
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/03/2006
In the eighties, when pop was frivolous and flamboyant, the UK produced one of the greatest bands of that era, the Eurythmics; a man-woman pop duo that was ironically all about unpretentious and intelligent pop music. Almost 20 years later, we have Drunk With Joy, a male-female duo -- also from the UK -- that follows the footsteps of the Eurythmics, in terms of the smartness and straightforwardness in its music. Sound Living is only Drunk's first album; but it shows a lot of maturity and promise.
In this present electro-pop craze of technology-hungry musicians seeking sophisticated electronics to get a richer sound, Drunk's creativity in simplicity shows that even for electro-pop, technology is not the only ingredient for a great song. The uniqueness of this pair -- consisting of vocalist Mila Oshin and musician Kris Jager -- is that their songs are minimally bestowed with gaudy production effects. There is almost no fancy atmospherics to extra spruce up the songs here. Still, there is never a moment on Sound Living where the production is lacking, and the album sounds elegantly polished. Even amongst the frugality of this record, meat is added wherever necessary, like chunky beats, lush synths, and razor-sharp guitars, without being too indulgent.
Oshin is not the most brilliant vocalist in the world. But on Sound Living she demonstrates that it is not necessary to have an extraordinary voice to be a good singer. She sings within her limitations and her stoic vocals suit the kind of songs written on this album; the singing and the lyrics work to complement each other.
The cut "Woman," for instance, is feminist but sneeringly so, and gets a good deal of sarcasm from Oshin's apt vocals. Also, the cynicism on "Our Friends The Actors" (a pitiful take on faking in everyday situations of life) and the resentfulness on "Go In Stay In Tune In" (a skeptical look at the media's dominance over us) couldn't have been better expressed than by Oshin's impassive singing. In addition, Oshin's vocals add a kind of Fiona Apple-ish arrogance to the band's love songs, which make them sound weirdly unconventional.
Sincere and non-presumptuous alt-pop is Drunk's mantra for creativity, and the formula behind Sound Living. This formula seems to work perfectly, as this record shows an immensely promising act for the future. Drunk has the potential to be this generation's Eurythmics; hopefully someday it will.
[For more information on Drunk With Joy, visit www.drunkwithjoy.com]