Band: The Orphan, The Poet
Released: May 31st 2011
Producer: Kris Crummett
Listening to the five tracks on Translating is a relaxing, enjoyable experience, as we’re treated to The Orphan, The Poet’s brand of ambient, alternative rock. It’s the kind of music that you can have real appreciation for: the vocals are calm and soothing, the music is mid-paced, atmospheric and uplifting and the production complements everything perfectly. The problem though, is that none of this is very exciting. Don’t get me wrong, the songs are good; I like the music and I definitely appreciate the craftsmanship of it, but I don’t feel in a rush to hear it all again once it’s over.
The vocalist’s tone is excellent, I could happily listen to it at length, but throughout the five tracks he stays in the same, comfortable range. Similarly, the music remains at a constant pace over the EP and in the same key, so that when combined, these elements make the five songs sound very similar. That said, these songs are all very strong, proving that the band have found their niche with this sound and are able to operate within it very effectively. I can see an argument for wanting to keep the EP consistent in style so that it feels like a coherent package, but if the band go on to record a full length album, they would need to experiment outside of their comfort zone to generate sufficient interest over ten or so songs.
Perhaps this observation is simply due to the particular style that the band has chosen, because playing this style of music probably never will be ‘exciting’, but then why should it? They’ve chosen this sound and they’ve proved to be proficient at it, so maybe it’s just a fault with my preferences and not the music. This all seems feasible until the EP’s closing track ‘Invincible’ plays out. ‘Invincible’ is an excellent song (a clear stand-out track) and manages to balance the ambience of the music with a little more urgency than the other tracks. It begins with an up-tempo drum beat that creates a brilliant groove and when paired with a powerful vocal delivery, it totally alters the dynamic of the music. It adds excitement. If the band could create more songs that mix up the pace and vocal delivery, and scatter them amongst the softer, more soothing tracks, then they could have a winning formula.
Overall, this is a strong EP and it feels harsh to criticise them for wanting it to fulfil a personal preference of mine that it was never designed to meet. For a lot of people, a relaxing, ambient record that remains consistently strong and steady will be well received, and rightly so, but for me it is a collection of songs that ranks high in my appreciation, but not in my playlist. Give it a listen and see what you think.