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Sweet Confusion

By Divine Right

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Album Review

By Divine Right's fourth album, Sweet Confusion, is an interesting but ultimately very frustrating release. The Canadian quartet suffers from classic symptoms of split personality disorder. That is, for every really good song, there is a corresponding clunker. They seem torn between being a spunky power pop group in the same vein as countrymen Sloan or the Flashing Lights and being a shuddering rock machine. The little sprinkles of garage rock and blues also confuse the matter. When they stick to the melodic side of their nature, they craft some winning pop tunes, like "I Can't Do This By Myself," the percolating album opener "The Slap," and "Chinchilla Deluxe." Best of all are the singsongy "Soft Machine," which sounds like the Who if they were 15 years old in 2004 or Sloan if they wrote really dopey lyrics, and the sticky-sweet acoustic ballad turned epic "The Pearl," with guitarist Colleen Hixenbaugh providing some wonderful vocals. Why she didn't sing more on the album is a very pertinent question. By Divine Right also sound strong when they drift into dreamy indie rock territory. "Listen to My Angels" is a tough but spacy drone with some fine production work, and "Floating Away" is a lovely folk-psych ballad with a glittering arrangement. Unfortunately, the Mr. Hyde to the pop band's Dr. Jekyll is a generic '70s bluesy rock band. Tracks like "Sweet Confusion" and "All Over It!" sound like Lenny Kravitz outtakes. "Semi White Boy" is particularly weak, with lead singer José Miguel Contreras (who usually displays very nice, melodic vocals) aiming for manly blooz territory he has no business being in, while the band clatters along behind him like a half-hearted frat band. And really, these mild-mannered indie kids have no business trying to sound all tough and streetwise on the embarrassing "City City." When toting up the score, you have to take the simplistic, often dorky lyrics into account. Rhyming "tissues" with "issues," singing about the city where the girls are pretty, and claiming you have a nondairy creamer in your jeans doesn't do much to win favor with people who actually listen to the words. Luckily, the songs where the worst offenses occur are also the catchiest, so it is easy to overlook their stumbles. Harder to overlook are the plodding rock tunes that really do drag the album down. What a shame, too, because the other half of the record is really quite good. If only they can find the cure for their blues affliction, their next record may be something quite special.

Biography

Formed: 1991

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The trio By Divine Right was formed in 1991 by Jose Contreras (guitar, vocals), Brendan Canning (bass, vocals), and Mark Goldstein (drums, vocals). After releasing a little-known cassette (Buffet of the Living Dead) and appearing on various compilations, the band released their self-titled, full-length debut in 1995. The four-song cassette Some followed, and in 1997 All Hail Discordia (produced and engineered by Brenndan McGuire) was released by Nettwerk. In February 1999, Bless This Mess was put...
Full bio
Sweet Confusion, By Divine Right
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