That unknown fella was Chris Ambrosino of Blue Ribbon, so off I go to investigate their ep “Lust.” My first impression was that the title alone was bold enough to be a tall order to live up to. Then I went to their soundcloud page and saw a few of the song titles (“Don’t Eff Me,” “Demon” and “Luxuria”), coupled with the dreamy pink rose cover art and my hesitations were eased: this is an effort that is both artistically consistent and yet not at all pretentious.
“Don’t Eff Me”, the lead off track, walks the fine line of serious content with major key chording and lands firmly on the right side of authenticity (think Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” without the need for explanation).
“Demon” begins with the line, “I don’t know if I can make it / In a world where I get shaken.” I love that kind of honesty: not trying to be self-indulgent, just stating the facts of a hard reality. It continues with “I won’t say there’s a reason / In a world where there’s only demons.” This song (and I mean this in the best way) reminds me of the Goo Goo Dolls before the reinvisioned glam rock took them over, particularly the song “Sympathy” from Gutterflower, when the band was dealing with commercial success in the midst of personal destruction. Chris Ambrosino’s vocals even sound like John Reznick’s here. The instrumentation is creative, including thick electric guitar tones with bright mandoline cutting through. It’s really great.
“Happy Song For Thee” is a slower, melancholy song that feels like the first moments of waking and realizing that life may just be alright enough after all.
“God Only Knows” is where the band can rightly wear their “Americana” tag: acoustic guitars, organs and keys, and just the right amount of weathered grit in Jim Gordon’s vocals. “Would it hurt to say that you loved me / Them three words I long to hear.”
Overall, this is a strong freshman debut from a band that shows the promise of being able to choose several different sonic directions on what will hopefully be more projects to come.