Stomacher knows how to fill the sound space without drowning out any of the instruments that create it. Sentimental Education begins with an orchestral fade-in that tapers off into a moody drum and bass groove with haunting ambient guitar work to set the tone. This sophisticated recording does not follow your typical verse - chorus - verse song structure. Stomacher is also not limited by the typical functions of instruments. They take an experimental approach with the beats, the function of the electric guitar and with the vocals. I will admit, at first I was having a trouble getting past the androgynous vocals, I kept wishing a woman with a deep voice were singing. . . and then it dawned on me - he sounds like Annie Lennox. I've never been so O.K. with male vocals going so high, the effect is chilling. He really uses the vocals as a well placed instrument, there's no point in focusing on whether a man or woman is singing, but instead on how what is being sung complements the rest of the ensemble.
Overall, Stomacher's Sentimental Education is extremely atmospheric, a dark and at times goose bump inducing endeavor. From the moody slower paced tracks to the more upbeat yet intense vibes given off in the faster tracks, Stomacher displays many progressive and experimental elements. The electric guitar often functions as a source of ambient noise throughout the recording. When coupled with doubled (and tripled) vocal tracks Stomacher's guitar work creates an even more haunting atmosphere. There's definitely a rock/pop feel to this album, one could even argue the presence of an indie rock or 80's revival influence. Indie rock for sure when they slow it down a notch and mellow out - almost too mellow with track 5 (The Devil).
Every aspect of this album comes across as being put together with great care and dedication, from the perfection of the actual production (even the hand clapping in track 7 (Police) displays high sound quality and control) to the performance of all of Stomacher's members. Even when they are giving the instrumentation room to breathe, the clarity of the recording shines through. I recommend listening to this album multiple times. More and more details begin to emerge and you get the full effect.
posted by Laurcifer for New York Groove 2009