The Morning Benders return with Big Echo, a sonic masterpiece that combines new wave elements with honest vocals. Encapsulating vibrant and soothing sounds, this album calms listeners as they hear tracks that are easily reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Present are a few mediocre songs but they are easily overshadowed by the abundance of addictive melodies and beautiful reverberation. There may be a lack of deliberation or direction in this record, but Big Echo is nothing short of a triumph for The Morning Benders and will be remembered by many as one of 2010’s most ambitious records.
Chris Chu and the rest of the band have clearly matured on this album and it’s obvious from the first track on. Opening up with the quirky “Excuses”, each blend of sound easily captures the heart. Combining choir-like vocals with an orchestral acoustic backboard, “Excuses” is surely the album’s biggest highlight. This transitions into “Promises”, a jazzy array that showcases Chu’s thoughts on their career singing triumphantly, “But I can’t help thinking we grew up too fast, And I know, I know this won’t last”. This song is followed by the softened “Wet Cement”, which is enjoyable despite the little development which emits a tone of mediocrity. There is too much backlash in Chu’s voice in this one, as if the sound has become too gigantic to process.
Throughout the entire album, Julian Harmon’s percussive skills are beautifully executed and serve as a truly reliable backbone to the sonic elements incorporated in each track. This is especially apparent during the chorus of “Pleasure Sighs” in which Harmon effortlessly adapts during the soft to loud transitions keeping a simple yet sufficient drum component. What really composes the record are Chu’s beautiful and assertive vocals combined with the layered reverb sounds. The combination of the two is immediate yet stationary. There is no point in the record that feels conclusive or introductory; as if Big Echo’s real effect is continuity.
Two of the strongest points in the record occur during “All Day Day Light” and “Stitches”. “All Day Day Light” is easily the album’s most pop-friendly track with a soft strumming guitar that overlaps a deliberate guitar riff. The chorus features a very deep instrumental component that is topped by the chanting of “Someone’s someone’s calling out my name”. Another beautifully developed track is “Stitches” which slowly adds layer upon layer of sound, truly showcasing the variety of sound emitted from the album. The explosion of sound that occurs during the part where Chu sings “You don’t know me by name” features beautiful instrumentals from the entire group.
While the production quality of this album leaves something to be desired, Big Echo is a truly exceptional album. Gone is the adolescent regurgitation spewed out in their debut, Talking Through Tin Cans. This has been replaced by a beautiful evolution of alternative rock and reverb that is as mature as it is layered. The Morning Benders have created a masterpiece of sound and beauty, making their mark as powerful contenders for the coming years in the music industry.