Simpático – The Boy is Mine EP

Simpático
The Boy is Mine EP

Jason Sweeney just might be Melbourne’s pop answer to Stephen Merritt. He is incredibly prolific and records under several different monikers such as Simpático, Sweet William, Par Avion, and Pretty Boy Crossover to name a few. In Simpático, Sweeney relies on drum machines and synths to achieve a sort of 80s sound, not unlike Future Bible Heroes (another Merritt project). What sets Simpático apart from Merritt’s musical outfits is probably the lyrics. While Merritt tends to be melodramatic and opts for clever, humorous lyrics in his songs, Sweeney means every word that he sings.
The first track on this EP, “Arrogance,” lyrically reminds me of the song “The Desperate Things You Make Me Do” by the Magnetic Fields. Sweeney sullenly croons “Oh well, I can set fire to the rope that he’d hang / And the fear isn’t bad / It’s just death in our hands,” while Merritt sings “Time provides the rope / But love will tie the slipknot / And I will be the chair you kick away.” While both lyrics appear to be dark and morose, Simpático appears completely serious in what is sung, versus Merritt’s melodramatic and amusing vocal delivery. This song is also reminiscent of Joy Division, if they had been a pop band. rather than a post-punk band.
The lyrics provided on the back of the CD sleeve come in handy because Sweeney’s voice tends to be drowned out within the layers of music. If you only listen to the music without paying attention to the words, you’re missing out because Sweeney pens thoughtful lyrics. “Firebug” is a catchy, upbeat song where Sweeney calmly sings about arsonists and his lover’s house burning down. On “How Could Anyone Not Love You,” the lyrics sound confessional and culled from a diary. “There is No End to This Day” stands out as being different to the other tracks on the EP. This song treads into slow shoegaze territory, with echoey vocals, droney noises, and simple guitar. Sweeney sounds resigned, sad, and exhausted when he sings of the man that left him heart broken.
Simpático makes music that sounds like it could’ve come straight from the 80s but surpasses those in complexity and depth. Most of Sweeney’s songs comes from real life experiences. He expresses his feelings without being overly sentimental while creating tasteful, elegant pieces of electro pop. Being a limited US tour EP, I would recommend picking up this little nugget of music.