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Sinners Stick Together

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Album Review

British pop and politics have long been intertwined, but the rise of AOR in the '60s created a split in the States, with AM's pop rarely moving beyond candy fluff for the mind, while rock-orientated FM delved into more serious subjects. The Sterns, however, are determined to bridge that gap once and for all. Sinners Stick Together, the quintet's second album, is awash in bright and breezy pop music, and drenched in infectious, hook-laden choruses, effervescent melodies, chirpy harmonies, and bouncy rhythms. Like all the best pop bands, the Sterns' songs sound immediately familiar, yet never to the point of suggesting rip-off. The group's music echoes the past, it glistens like the '60s, but for every nod to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Kinks, there's an equal bow to their '70s and '80s equivalents — the Buzzcocks, the Clash, the Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, and briefly, on "Supreme Girl," Madness. This is power pop for a new now generation. And for this generation politics is back with a vengeance, intruding everywhere. And so the Sterns confront it head on, but with great wit or an unexpected twist. "Supreme Girl" is a grand example, the Harriet Myers' Supreme Court debacle as seen from George Bush's selfish viewpoint. Nigerian internet entrepreneurs, all suspiciously related to fallen dictators, seem a tad less predatory when seen through the eyes of one of their small children. Be it the abortion battles, the Iraq War ("All Saints", composed pre-invasion), Republicans' insistence on painting dissent as treason, or religion, the Sterns tackle all the topics of the moment. However, if all that's a little too hard to handle, you can always take to your bed and pull the covers over your head "Twenty-Three Hours" a day, or just listen to the clutch of apolitical numbers that celebrate strong women, dismiss (college) degree driven lives, and dive into the autobiographical. A pop masterpiece whose music is as enticing as its themes are thought-provoking.


Formed: Brighton, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Boston-area band the Sterns derive their British-sounding jangly rock from the likes of Squeeze, XTC, the Smiths, and the English Beat. Featuring former members of ska bands Mass. Hysteria and Westbound Train, the lineup consists of Chris Stern (vocals/guitar), Alex Stern (guitar/vocals), Emeen Zarookian (bass/vocals), Michael Sixx (keyboard), and Andrew Sadoway (drums). A self-released first album, Say...
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Sinners Stick Together, The Sterns
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