Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Suits Boulevard, (Stylized ‘SuitsBLVD’) a Danish outfit that has a particularly international appeal. Their debut album, ‘Oblivious,’ has been making the rounds with grandeur, landing high on Canadian and European radio charts. The band’s music has also been showcased on an array of television shows and networks. On top of all that, they played more than sixty concerts last year, more than a third of which were charity benefits for the Danish Cancer Society. How is their music, though? Does it stack up to its independent counterparts?
For the purposes of this Spotlight article, I’m delving into half a dozen tracks from ‘Oblivious.’ It is, however, twice as long as that. The band lays claim to quite a variety of genres: rap, rock, metal, pop, R&B, and others. From the opening notes of ‘Treehouse,’ it’s made clear that these influences have melded into an anthemic pop rock style. The production is quite good, but the electronic tuning on the lead vocals goes completely awry; it’s excessive. The lyrics aren’t anything to write home about, but I will concede that it is an infectious pop rock tune that’ll likely get audiences going at live shows.
The titular track, ‘Oblivious,’ offers a much deeper insight into Suits Boulevard. The imagery in the lyricism is far stronger, and the atmospheric pastures of the track are far more compelling, too. Again, I’ll contend that the band should have left their lead vocals alone in the studio. The Phil Spector-esque rise and fall of the aural landscape makes for a wonderful listening experience on a quality sound system – the searing electric guitar and pounding percussion build in a cacophony of sound.
‘The Fallen’ has potential, but falls flat for a few reasons. Firstly, that awkward vocal mix boasts the most noticeable (and flawed) tinkering. I’m not sure I fully understand the stylistic decision to mix the album this way; they’re strong vocalists. This is totally unnecessary. To be entirely blunt, the creative direction of the mix makes Suits Boulevard enter frightening territory – at times, they feel like a Nickelback sound-alike. They exhibit a whole bunch of talent; it would be worth applying to more intricate lyricism and better studio execution.
The instrumentation of ‘Blue Jeans’ showcases some elegantly good guitar chops, as does ‘Ocean of Lights,’ especially around the 1:20 mark. That prowess is extended to ‘Chasing Butterflies,’ too. They’re good musicians. I also can’t laud them too much, though, because I think the album is inherently flawed. The lyricism feels a bit superficial, the vocal mixes aren’t attractive at all, and the sound is far too overproduced at most points in the songs. Again, I think Suits Boulevard is chock-full of potential. They need to put down the commercialistic auto-tune and predictable instrumental tropes and go back to the drawing board. I suspect they could make something that is worth writing home about.