Tin Sparrow - Double EP Review


Short yet confident. Three words which best describe the first few strides Tin Sparrow took into my musical spectrum. With only two EP's and one independent single, they have made a staggered but clearly crafted emergence into the world. The unique flavour of folk pop which peppers their slim but punchy EPs is the kind that will easily put a plump grin on your face - even in the midst of a woeful British winter.

It is due to their distinctive style that they are one of those bands I feel lucky to have stumbled upon during a deflated scour of the multi-tonal ether. The four-piece band from Sydney have a real 'thump and wail' to them which gives the listener the vivid image of a group who truly love the music they create.

Their first EP, From The Sun (2011) was a triumph in many respects. Its opening song 'Eileen' jumpstarts the piece with a trifecta of kick, tambourine and claps, leading into the paradoxically light hearted tale of a dejected bus ride past the house of an old lover. Our chanting protagonist echoes, with strong upbeat vigour, his stream of consciousness and his ponderings on a lost relationship with a tone of acceptance and optimism for the future.

The next two tracks, 'The Boat' and 'For You' follow the same stylistic tack, mixing acoustic and electric guitar with a thumping drum beat and expressive lyrics about people and love which glows with the unmistakable tang of summer. This zest reaches its crescendo in the final offering of the EP, 'Fool's Gold'. The raucous cry that 'She was just fools' gooooold!!' makes you feel like you're watching a band of wild horses thunder across open countryside at sunrise. It has an epicness to it, which brings the piece to an end leaving you feeling that you've actually accomplished something yourself by listening to it.

Many bands fear the curse of the second release, asking themselves whether they are in danger of becoming repetitive, complacent or simply not matching the success of their first work. If such thoughts had entered the minds of the Tin Sparrow members, they needn't have worried. Fair & Verdant Woods (2012) takes a slight change in approach but stays loyal to their distinctive style. They succeed in delivering a quainter feel to this second EP that makes listening to the work an experience refreshing enough to rival their first.

Right off the bat, the quartet slaps us with 'My Own'. Tin Sparrow reminds us of their 'down to business' flair with this track which follows a refreshingly different theme from all four songs on From The Sun. Held up by a network of whistles, the song takes a moment to look at what's important for the self. Whereas their first release struck me as a cathartic exercise stemming from the unfortunate events of a failed relationship, the band chose to open their next EP with a song whose first lyrics are 'I've finally found a track that I can walk. No longer is it haunted by your ghost'. The progression in their thematic inspiration is clear and supported by the subsequent four tracks which are considerably more eclectic than the band's first EP.

'Azzuro' and 'Sides' are two brilliantly crafted songs. The constant 'shucka shack' of tambourine and the earthly patter of the floor tom gives both songs that joyous 'round the campfire' texture which I can't help but love about this band. However, 'Bricks' is the highlight for me. Every band has to take a moment to pause, reflect, and duet the shit out of at least one song. This is that song - and quite frankly, it's lovely. The lead singer is joined by a revitalizing female voice to supply us with this - a slow and entirely acoustic song about someone who sees his old lover with another man. The rhythm is slow and seductive. It creates a sadder mood than the band's other more uplifting tunes. I was pleased to then be faced with 'Hector Myola', the song that ends the EP with a pop - in keeping with this band's knack for giving a well-rounded listening experience. Fun, quick and punchy, the song's 'Wild West' guitar and definitive snare drum beat makes it impossible not to sing along. I don't know who Hector Myola is, but I know I want to be him.

It's near impossible to listen to Tin Sparrow and not slap a filthy grin on your face, bob your head and get ready for a night which is either going to end in bloodshed, romance or adventure.