If I kept a “Best Albums of the Year” list, then Sincerely, Severely would have taken one of the top spots for 2009. Maybe the top. Morningbell’s fourth album is simply irresistible.
These fourteen fetching tracks reveal a sharp, talented band that must be at the top of their game because, if they got any better, it would be scary. Funky, soulful tracks dominate Sincerely, Severely, but Morningbell approach this music with sweetness, rendering their songs more lovable than sexy or seductive. Not that this quartet can’t sound sexy: “Stay in the Garden”, track six, unfolds a sultry little tale, sung with an understated charm that snakes under the a mysterious, brassy atmosphere of simmering organs and an alluring acoustic bass.
But tracks like “Soul Ma’am” and title track “Sincerely, Severely” better represent the album. The first song glides, carried by wafts of 60′s pop, an infectious rhythm and confident falsetto. “Sincerely, Severely” revisits the best of soulful am radio with another patient falsetto singing, “I wouldn’t waste a minute, it’s true / I’d get right down to loving you”. The bass shines, here and throughout.
Morningbell are equally adept at stringing together catchy indie rock songs. Opening track “Let’s Not Lose Our Head” boasts a fuzzy electric sound that’s designed to bring smiles. Especially effective is the song’s break, at which the vocal resumes singing, “A crumbling empire, like being seasick on board a ship that is sinking and crashes into another sinking ship, and they burst into flames / But the bands don’t care, they just play back the songs with shorter names”. Sincerely, Severely‘s rock songs span pop, noise rock, and blues.
Here, Morningbell have made some of the best music of 2009. They have a strong musical presence, composing and playing songs that are inviting and entertaining but never cutesy. Start off 2010 off with one of the best of 2009.