Depth in a rock band means more than just big guitars and bigger personalities; it means making complicated statements simple via the majestic tonal bond that comes from electric instruments playing in perfect unison. The Make have been thinking about this and other conceptual elements of their sound, and it’s evidenced quite profoundly in their new record The Make Up Sessions. Although coming in at a fairly moderate total length for containing a dozen different songs, The Make Up Sessions covers a lot of ground – and uses nary more than the basic foundations the old guard in rock would have relied upon.
The beat is what shapes the tone of the lyrics in “Wasted Time,” “Someone to Talk To” and “Try a Little Harder,” the three songs that comprise the meatier portion of the record as a whole, but not through an urgent pace of the percussion. On the contrary, because of the varying time signatures here, and the keys that accent the rhythm of the music so elegantly in the former two songs, we feel like we’re listening to something that could take a turn in virtually any direction along the path, if not develop something wholly unpredictable in style by the time we reach the second stanza in any given track here.
“Avenue Girl” has the sharpest hook of any song on The Make Up Sessions, but it’s so natural that I would be surprised if it wasn’t the first part of the track written. Nothing sounds overtly composed specifically to score some decent radio play over the next four months, but at the same time, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason why any of these songs couldn’t work on the college radio dial (and likely mainstream FM in urban corners of the country).
It would be nice to hear the concepts behind “Jones Street” and “Shake It All Up” reworked into live material made just for the stage in the future, and I think that’s the essence of what this LP is more than anything else – an acknowledgment of what is versus what was in this genre and a guided sneak preview into what could come next for The Make. The Make Up Sessions doesn’t conceal its ambitiousness, but instead plays it off so cool and collected that you would think this band was always as experienced and well-suited to the pros as they are today.
Whether you’ve been listening to this kind of music for years or are just now discovering the heaviness of a new wave in retro rock music and bands like The Make through the release of this album, The Make Up Sessions has something spellbinding for anyone who likes quality, classic pop/rock to appreciate this year. Rock took some heavy blows in the last decade or so, but right now, it’s looking to come back into focus on the up-and-up largely because of the effort independent acts like The Make are putting into this style every chance they get. I can’t wait to catch these guys live, and with any luck, the twelve songs here will be featured as a staple section of any setlist they play.
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