The Draft Dodger
Bird & Flag, 2012
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/29/2012
Sick Friend is a band on caffeine and full of high spirits. Their music isn’t the fun, party type, but it nevertheless has a sense of lightheartedness and joviality. With their use of ancient synthesizers and a style that has a hint of the ‘80s, this band has a strange commonality with Men At Work. Musically, though, this duo from Montreal, Canada has little in common with the aforementioned ‘80s superstars from down under. Sick Friend’s music consists of a very simple combination of dirty, almost cheap-sounding guitars and synthesizers packaged in a simple and vaguely ska-like format of quick-fire songs.
However, the key ingredient in the band’s musical arsenal undoubtedly is the vocals. The songs on this album, the band’s full-length debut, are surely short. But as one half of the duo of Sick Friends, Michael O’Brien has a distinctively hyper-zealous singing style, which finds him almost trying to catch up with the music by squeezing in as many words as possible before the song ends. It becomes a trademark trait of this band. The almost breathless, superfast singing on cuts like “Cottages,” “The Draft Dodger,” and “Sleep Late” has a nice rhythmic and playful quality. But O’Brien has a gorgeously soulful voice, which paints a more romantic picture of the band’s personality on cuts like “Masks,” “Forest Lawn,” and “No Harm,” which finds him sounding less frantic and more angelic.
The frolicking music on The Draft Dodger makes for great pop tunes, without really being overtly poppy. The songs on this record, although never devoid of catchy melody, are hardly catchy in the conventional sense. Even in the paltry couple of minutes of duration, the tracks manage to be strange, melodious, and beautiful. The vocals definitely take the center stage in Sick Friend’s music, but the guitar and synthesizer are always doing interesting things in the background.
Sick Friend isn’t some breathtakingly unique indie outfit. But this doesn’t undermine the delightfulness of The Draft Dodger, nor does the album’s simplicity or shortness in length.