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The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator

Having never heard Wayne Allen's previous band Green Lemon, I'm pleased to say that I managed to approach The Skys with no preconceptions as to what would be contained inside his new project's debut album Small Dreams In An Elevator. That said, I really wasn't expecting the electronic rhythms mixed with indie rock pretentions and gentle simple melodies bolstered by fragile yet confident vocals that ooze out of the speakers.

While there are samples and loops used throughout this album, the feel never strays too far from organic and Allen possesses a voice that betrays the oft modern feel for something more akin to Stephen Stills or Paul Simon when he was still singing with his tall mate and while these styles may seem at odds, what Allen has achieved is to bind them together with wonderfully melodic phrases, intelligent vocals and sparse drama that make for tracks that are accessible and challenging at the same time.

Some have already lumped The Skys with the likes of Radiohead, however the feel created here is too up tempo in a down beat manner to truly be put in that bracket and Allen isn't afraid to be overtly pop when the mood takes him. "Bad Guys" comes on like a light weight Killers, however with more listens the stringent beat and jaunty keyboard colours really take hold and as so often during the disc, Allen's vocals raise what could have been a good track into a great one. There are no histrionics to his delivery, however the heartfelt, high pitched timbre is tailor made for the soundscape going on beneath it. "Heavy Eyes" reminds of a less twee "Our House" by Stephen Stills, a gentle acoustic guitar strums behind Allen's excellently layered harmonies and when the synth joins in the feeling is both uplifting and relaxing.

You could imagine the chorus of "Dirty Weather" cropping up on a later day Marillion album, however the double timed high hat in the chorus is altogether more dance oriented and brings a strangely sedate urgency to the singing keyboard backing. In contrast "Turtles" has a strong riff quietly holding an almost spoken vocal to acoustic strumming, piano stabs and glockenspiel pings before the wonderfully arranged vocals soar with an angelic quality and alter the mood completely. "Driver" has a vibe that makes you think of Simon and Garfunkel sitting together in a darkened room with only a spotlight for company as the plaintive acoustic guitar backs another seductive vocal and in an album full of intricate rhythms and beats the contrast is all the more stark and effective. As though to reinforce that contrast "Animal" is pure 80's electronica with a regimented beat gently pushing the synth melodies, although the song itself never gets above a considered jog, somehow The Skys manage to make these sedate electronic meanderings compelling and vital. The whole album has been building and as the chorus to "Slow" washes over you with its gloriously melodic hook the peak of the disc has been reached. Listen to it once and you'll be humming it for days, give it a couple of repeat listens and you'll discover a chorus line and melody that will stick in your head for eternity. Simple, memorable and stunningly effective. It's like rediscovering a long lost friend. You can't quite believe your luck and then it's like you've never been separated. Following that is a tough ask, so The Skys just decide to change tack once more by closing the disc with the angular piano build of "Different Faces" which has a vocal which is intentionally buried behind a dense wall of sound that slowly unravels as it brings the album to a close.

I wouldn't normally seek out an album that housed so much sampling and electronic embellishments, however on Small Dreams In An Elevator they are used to compliment some simple but hugely effective melodies and as already said Allen's vulnerable vocals are perfect for this album. The songs are extremely well written and along with Allen, Will Bradford (bass, guitars, keys, synth, etc.), Will Holland (bass) and Barry Marino (drums) put in flawless performances.

The Skys may have small dreams, however this is one elevator ride that ensures the journey is even more rewarding than reaching your destination.

Track Listing
1. Bad Guys
2. Heavy Eyes
3. Dirty Weather
4. Turtles
5. Driver
6. Animal
7. Slow
8. Different Faces

Added: February 8th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Band's Web Site
Hits: 2604
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by JD on 2011-02-01 23:44:09
My Score:

Great CD Wayne! I heard you play in Norman, and you guys kicked it... Love the tunes and best of luck to you guys.. I know I'll see you at some summer festivals... Keep on writing great songs and see you at the next show.

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by Beth Lewis on 2011-01-04 19:08:15
My Score:

Love this band... I heard them play at the Paseo Fest and again in Norman, and Stillwater - love them... and love the CD...

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by Brad on 2010-11-03 21:57:45
My Score:

Small Dreams is a great album. I heard the SKYS live a few weeks ago and their live show is amazing... I couldn't get the songs out of my head for days after their show. I hope to see these guys playing summer festivals in 2011. If you haven't heard this album, do yourself a favor, its great... very chill, and their live show will rock you hard.

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by Devin Whitledge on 2010-10-22 03:02:22
My Score:

Love this CD! Just found out about this new project of Wayne Allen's. Love his style from when he was with GL and now with the SKYS! Heard the band live and was equally impressed! Allen's got talent when it comes to his music. I heard that the band is in the studio recording a new album, can't wait! Small Dreams is addictive! Can't get the CD out of my player or the songs out of my head!

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by Justin D. on 2010-02-09 22:56:31
My Score:

Great review. Best new disc I've heard in a long time. Some of the choruses on this album get stuck in my head for DAYS. I enjoyed Allen's earlier work but I think that the Skys is a great step forward for him as a musician.

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by Johnathon Stewart on 2010-02-09 15:38:52
My Score:

I'm excited to see these guys play a show! I wonder if they'll be playing the festival circuit this summer.

The Skys: Small Dreams In An Elevator
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-02-09 15:13:35
My Score:

Awesome CD. Bought it last week and have not taken it out of my CD player yet. Heard the will be on tour soon with and awesome light show.

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