The Suggestions – Mix Tape

The Suggestions
Mix Tape

The Suggestions is the latest incarnation of indie popster John Brodeur. This power-pop three-piece throws out catchy pop nuggets with a rocking edge, which is what really distinguishes The Suggestions from Brodeur’s solo work. On his last solo album, Tiger Pop, Brodeur pasted together a collection of laid-back guitar pop that worked quite nicely. On Mix Tape, the songs take on a much more raw and live feel thanks to the more gritty tone of the guitars.
That’s not to say that The Suggestions music isn’t polished, because Mix Tape carries a very nice pop sheen productionwise. It’s just that this band seems to add a sense of fullness and vitality that wasn’t evident in Tiger Pop, and Brodeur’s songs fare all that much better for it.
The best way to compare this is to look at the highlight of Mix Tape, “Changing Your Mind (Again!)”, which was also included on Tiger Pop (as “Changing Your Mind – Again?”). The Suggestions blow the original version of the song out of the water by speeding up the tempo and adding some crunch to the rhythm guitars. Lyrically, it’s the strongest track on the album, spitting venom towards a potential lover who won’t cut the ties with an ex (“I’ve known you for years / I have noticed all the trends / You’ve always said we’re more than friends / So just humor me and take some sound advice and get the hell away from him”), and the dirty, jangly guitars push the sentiment even further than Brodeur’s pained lyrics can express. The frustration Brodeur expresses at playing second fiddle gives the song an added dimension (“I’ve always said do what you think is best for you / But now it’s time to do what’s best for me”) of emotion that seems remarkably sincere, as well.
“Be True” is a quick, catchy rocker that’s just barely delicate enough to be nice, though it’s got balls enough to rock (sorta like taking a shot of whiskey with your pinky up). “Halo” appears in two forms here – “radio edit” and “original,” and either way, the song adds up to a very strong, though somewhat demented, love song (“You’re all I see / You’re all I do / And I can’t escape / And I don’t know if I want to be saved / Hover above / It’s always you / If I died today / You’d always be standing over my grave”). “Birthday Girl (Into the Sun)” rides on a cool, mellow keyboard vibe (think Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver”), while “Masterpiece” sets out with an acoustic, country-tinged mood that stands out as the nicest track on Mix Tape. The track does pick up a bit of weight when the percussion sets in, but the mood remains relaxed regardless.
“Art of Dying” is most definitely the album’s biggest and most flashed-out track, with everything from pianos and synth-strings to horns worked into the mix of this mid-tempo number. The mix is very deep and brooding, and while the song is busy, so to speak, it never seems cluttered or overdone. The rest of this album consists of pop nuggets – this is just a touch of psychedelia to clear the pallet. There’s also a fine rock song tacked on to the end of the disc as a hidden extra track, which is a nice cherry to put on top of an already solid release.
Brodeur is obviously a very talented songwriter, as evidenced here on Mix Tape. For the most part, these songs are simple and catchy, and even when the material branches out and gets more involved (“Art of Dying”), The Suggestions keep a solid handle on everything on in around them in the mix. When this band gets around to recording a full-length record, it should make for a damn fine listen from beginning to end. Until then, however, Mix Tape works just fine.