Every once in a while, a band or album comes along and just hit the all of the right notes. It’s a rare thing, but it does happen. 6 Day Riot, fronted by Tamara Schlesinger, is one of those bands. Quietly working their way through the last few years, they first really appeared on our radar with last year’s 6 Day Riot Have A Plan which was a brilliantly fun effort but didn’t get nearly enough critical praise or popular recognition. Will this change with On This Island?
Already winning our Single of the Week with the album’s lead track ‘Take Me’, we were expecting good things; however expectations are cruel things that, more often than not, lead to disappointment so it’s a great pleasure to find an album that not only meets, but greatly exceeds those hopes. There are so many musical influences that permeate every track but the memory that persists is of the brilliant mariachi horns and pounding, joyous drums that kick in part way through the first track and stick with us throughout the rest of the album.
While the tracks have a tendency to veer around like George Michael heading home after a particularly good night out, this is an album that refuses to be labelled: pop, indie, folk and electronica, all with a Latin flavour and a marching band rhythm. Schlesinger’s vocals are the solid and powerful force that pull the totally disparate elements into an effective whole and create a consistency where one really shouldn’t exist; it’s an amazing feat – it should be a complete mess, but it isn’t!
Excitingly, each track builds the layers adding complexity but also pushes the bar higher – there is no tail-off here and the true success is in the band’s continual ability to surprise and delight. On This Island reaches its true crescendo with ‘All I Need’ which comes full circle and much like the album opener features a truly heady chorus and the pounding drum/horn combo that has been a real friend to us through the journey.
On This Island is a gorgeous collision of ideas, sounds and words that never manages to become quirky despite itself. If we are ever on that island, then this is the only disc we’ll really need.