Crybaby – No Means Yes EP

Crybaby
No Means Yes EP

I’m a bit taken back by the band name Crybaby. For while it brings to mind images of whining, petulant brats, the band Crybaby is anything but. After three self-released EPs, the Atlanta band Crybaby’s new EP is quite well performed, even though the band hasn’t been playing together for too long of a time. And while their music could be described as moody, somewhat sullen, and a bit sly, it’s by no means whiny.
The highlight of the band is Kelly Sirmans’ voice, which reminds me at times of PJ Harvey or Kristin Hersch. But instead of making that the sole focus of the music, it mixes well with melodic guitars and an absolutely stellar rhythm section. It may be the mixing, but I’m impressed with the drumming in particular, as he mixes in various lighter sounds and time changes to keep the songs progressing nicely. The rest of the music takes on a dark overtone that fits Sirmans’ voice perfectly.
The opening “Sick” wins me over almost completely. Sirmans’ vocals are mixed within the music, flowing under melodic guitar and a prevalent rhythm that’s a bit more up-beat than the rest of the song for an interesting contrast. A bit less intriguing, “Sirens” has almost a gothic feel to it, especially through the vocals now that soar over low-toned guitars, reminding me of the dark rock of bands like early Throwing Muses. After the soaring end of that song, “Sorry” pulls back a bit and works much better, as the guitars get a bit jangly, providing a nice compliment to the sweeter-sounding vocals that take a more sultry feel. That continues on the emphatic “If Given the Chance,” and “Another Feeling” closes with a much more powerful, guitar-driven sound. Drummer Mark Carbone gets to show off a bit on the percussion-based hidden track that ends things.
There’s something a bit too mid-90s about Crybaby’s sound. When bands like Throwing Muses and Belly were making dark, serious alternative rock songs, Crybaby would have fit in quite well. But I think the tone has a lot to do with Sirmans’ deeper, rich voice and the way it’s mixed with the instruments. I like the mix a lot, despite its dated sound. This band shows a lot of promise, and I hope to hear more.