Ski Lodge

Big Heart

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Many, many musicians have drawn inspiration over the years from Morrissey and Johnny Marr, the duo who made the Smiths the eternal go-to band for really sad, really earnest guys. Ski Lodge is another in a long line of groups to tap into the fountain of mopey lyrics, jangly guitars, and incongruously bouncy rhythms and come up with music sure to connect with melancholy listeners of all kinds. Their debut album, Big Heart, was crafted by the band's fortuitously named leader, Andrew Marr. Working with producer Lewis Pesacov, Marr wrote, sang, and played everything on the record, except for one song where the rest of the band joined in. Thanks to the impressive amount of energy Marr applies to the songs and his skills as a musician, the whole album sounds like the work of a band playing with something to prove. Most of the album is made up of fast songs that jump out of the speakers and deliver Marr's tales of gloom with vigor. After they slap you with their energetic glee, the hooks in each song help them stick and dig in deep. Tracks like "Anything to Hurt You," "Boy," and "Just to Be Like You" all sound like contenders for the Hit Parade of 1986, and the rest of the album is almost as strong. The tracks that slow the tempo are almost as effective, though it works better when there is some forward motion to keep Marr's lugubrious vocals from dragging just a little too much. The rest of the time his dolorous tones fit in perfectly with the angular jousting of the guitars and the spiky punch of the drums. Ski Lodge will never dislodge the Smiths from the broken hearts of their fans, but anyone with a predilection for catchy guitar pop songs that make you want to dance and cry at the same time might find that spinning through Big Heart is a quite satisfying experience.

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