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article by: Michael Canter

08 April 2013

Album Review - Hydrogen Child by Super Water Sympathy

"This album demonstrates a special branch of pop music, one where the songs sound organic and carefully fashioned. This doesn’t feel like music fabricated in a lab or written with dance moves in mind, it comes across like a group of people sharing their views and joy in life. In short, it feels good."
~ We Love Rock 'N' Pop

Release Date: 23-April-2013
Genre: Rock / Indie Pop / Alternative
Location: Shreveport, LA
Publisher: [p][c] In Music We Trust
Label: In Music We Trust
Total Time: 47m 43s
Review Date: 08-April-2013
Review Format: CD
Bit Rate: N/A
For Fans Of: Florence + The Machine, The Joy Formidable, The Cranberries, Joan As Policewoman
Songs In Jivewired Radio Rotation: Uh Oh!
Best Songs: Uh Oh!, Purple Poppies, Pipe Dream, Sunday School Dress, Pistol
Best of the Rest: Shadow, Avalon, Anthem
Previous Jivewired Review: None
Jivewired Digital One Sheet: Not currently a member of Jivewired

Purchase:  iTunes | Artist Website 
Stream:  Not yet available for streaming

***As of this writing the new CD is only available for professional distribution from the label, In Music We Trust, and at the band's live shows.

Track Listing:

01. Uh Oh! 3:25
02. Purple Poppies 3:54
03. Anthem 4:05
04. Sunday School Dress 3:49
05. Fire Me Up! 4:00
06. Shadow 4:29
07. Pipe Dream 3:58
08. When You're Not Around 4:44
09. Pistol 3:52
10. Avalon 3:45
11. Cantalopah 4:12
12. Magnolia Paradise 3:30


I don't often get a lot of music that is categorized as pop music for review and I am not sure why.  When pop music is done right there is nothing more enjoyable to listen to.  Super Water Sympathy oozes indie pop sensibilities, and the Shreveport band nailed it on their latest release, Hydrogen Child.

By marrying the melodic jangle of post-romantic indie guitar pop with lilting, trance-inducing sonic textures, and by showcasing a dreamy pop appeal with an ever-so-slight Celtic tint, Super Water Sympathy is primed to become one of the more successful indie groups to emerge in the early part of 2013. Led by vocalist Ansley Hughes, whose caoineadh (read: powerful and lamenting voice) is the most distinctive element of the group's sound, and following a fastidious and comprehensive two-month tour of the south and west, and with an upcoming gig on this year's Van's Warped Tour,  Super Water Sympathy is set to make a significant and immediate impact.

There are few things more gratifying than the simultaneous coalescing of a new album that oozes with radio-friendly hits, a landmark, coveted and prestigious tour appearance and a quick ascension amongst your fans and peers.  That's the indie musical trifecta and Super Water Sympathy has hit it.  None of it would be possible without the hard work of everyone involved with the band and those responsible for the dynamic and unforgettable songs that make up this album.

The first thing you will notice about this album is it's wonderful sonic palette.  Super Water Sympathy describes it as Water Pop, and at it's essence it is defined by lush tones and layered textures, a blend of pop and baroque arrangements that to a song is positively enchanting.  The songs within are founded on a stratum of ringing guitar hooks and unconventional melodies with the focus on Hughes pitch-perfect vocals.

The combination is scintillating and very reminiscent of some of the Smiths/Morrissey works.  Every song offers potential for mass appeal.  The production is near-perfect, and in fact, the album was produced by Cam Blackwood who has previously worked with Florence + The Machine, Coldplay and Morrissey.  The song Avalon has a strong Coldplay feel, but other than that, it is the band's stamp on this album that ultimately surfaces, and Blackwood has fortuitously steered the production in that direction.

It is also the synergy of the entire band that makes the music on Hydrogen Child so intoxicating.  It's really a magnificent album that owes itself to equally strong performances from Clyde Hargrove (guitar), Billy Hargrove (bass) and Ryan Robinson (drums).  But it is the vocal work of Hughes that truly stands out with a strong assist to Jason Mills on keys.  It is the interplay of both that creates such an infectious listening experience.  That pick and roll combination is most evident on Magnolia Parade, and though it is one of the softer and more melancholy sounding songs on this album, it is simply breathtaking on first and repeat listens.

The more upbeat songs like Uh Oh!, Purple Poppies, Sunday School Dress and Pistol are the best songs on Hydrogen Child -- but the entire album is a string of consecutive hits that are one through twelve all very good or better.  There is no reason why this band should not come off of their appearances on this summer's Warped Tour and not be a near-household name.  The bigger question is how will they follow this release?  Hydrogen Child is a sophomore effort but is so well-produced and professionally polished it has a far more veteran feel.  There's also no post-production tomfoolery and no sign of pitch or vocal adjustment or enhancement.  Credit Blackwood, as well as great vision by the entire band. This album earns high marks in every aspect of the recording process, from songwriting through its arrangements and post-production.

The superlatives are most sincerely warranted.  Hydrogen Child is an album that will immediately attach itself to you in a most endearing manner.   It can get a little too lush at times but never in an overbearing or lamentable way thanks to the vocal marksmanship of Ansley Hughes.  It is Hughes who keeps things lighter and slightly more airy just as things seem to get a little too keening or convoluted.  That's the mark of a great album.  Super Water Sympathy has arrived.

About Super Water Sympathy:

Shreveport, Louisiana-based Super Water Sympathy are announcing national tour plans in support of their forthcoming full-length, Hydrogen Child, on Portland, Oregon-based indie In Music We Trust Records. In support of Hydrogen Child, Super Water Sympathy will be touring in this year's Vans' Warped Tour.

The follow-up to their 2011 self-release Vesper Belle, Hydrogen Child is the next chapter in the development of the band’s self-made genre Water Pop. Hydrogen Child is a twelve-track synthesis of classic symphonic ambience with modern rock ’n’ roll anthems which will be released April 23, 2013 on In Music We Trust Records.

The band's current tour schedule:
04/11/13 - Varsity Theater (w/ Royal Teeth) – Baton Rouge, LA
04/12/13 - Artmosphere - Lafayette, LA
04/13/13 - Howlin Wolf - New Orleans, LA
04/20/13 - Phoenix Underground - Shreveport, LA
04/21/13 - House of Blues (w/ Youngblood Hawke) - New Orleans, LA
05/02/13 - Yesterdays - Natchitoches, LA
05/03/13 - Louisiana Tech University - Ruston, LA
05/04/13 - Maxine’s Pub - Hot Springs, AR
05/06/13 - Avogadro's - Fort Collins, CO
05/07/13 - State Room (w/ K's Choice) - Salt Lake City, UT
05/08/13 - Red Room - Boise, ID
05/09/13 - Sam Bonds Garage - Eugene, OR 05/10/13 - Blue Moon - Seattle, WA
05/11/13 - Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, OR
05/12/13 - Belfry - Sisters, OR
05/15/13 - Café Du Nord - San Francisco, CA
05/16/13 - Fulton 55 (w/Killola) - Fresno, CA
05/17/13 - Whiskey Richards (w/ Killola) - Santa Barbara, CA
05/18/13 - Viper Room (w/ Killola) - Los Angeles, CA
05/19/13 - TBD - Tucson, AZ
05/28/13 - Prophet Bar ( w/ Flobots ) - Dallas, TX
06/29/13 - Finnegans Wake - Alexandria, LA

07/13/13 - Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - Uniondale, NY
07/14/13 - Comcast Theater - Hartford, CT
07/16/13 - Toyota Pavillion - Scranton, PA
07/17/13 - First Niagra Pavillion - Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh)
07/18/13 - Blossom Music Center - Cuyahoga Falls, OH (Cleveland)
07/19/13 - The Palace of Auburn Hills - Auburn Hills, MI (Detroit)
07/20/13 - First Midwest Bank Amphitheater - Tinley Park, IL (Chicago)
07/21/13 - Canterbury Park - Shakopee, MN (Minneapolis)
07/23/13 - Cricket Wireless Amphitheater - Bonner Springs, KS (Kansas City)
07/24/13 - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater - Maryland Heights, MO (St Louis)
07/25/13 - Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood - Atlanta, GA
07/26/13 - Vinoy Park - St Petersburg, FL (Tampa)
07/27/13 - Cruzan Amphitheater - West Palm Beach, FL (Miami)
07/28/13 - Central Florida Fairgrounds - Orlando, FL
07/29/13 - Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre - Charlotte, NC
07/30/13 - Riverbend Music Center - Cincinnati, OH
07/31/13 - Marcus Amphitheatre - Milwaukee, WI
08/02/13 - Gexa Energy Pavillion - Dallas, TX
08/03/13 - AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
08/04/13 - Reliant Park - Houston, TX

Deciding to work on the new songs with producer Cam Blackwood (Florence + The Machine, Coldplay, Morrissey), the band flew to London to record them; whereas Vesper Belle was all over the map musically, this time they wanted to concentrate on a sound that was the most representative of the band, resulting in a much more focused album.

"There is a definite cohesiveness insofar as the arrangement and lyricism," says guitarist Clyde Hargrove. "We honed in on a few songs from Vesper Belle that we thought were most representative of the musical direction we are going, and used those as a benchmark for the tone of the album. Vesper Belle is much more eclectic in style and Hydrogen Child is more of a concept album."

The concept being transformation whether through love, death, or rebirth.

"There is an inherent and intended playfulness brought about by Ansley's vocal production and lyrical arrangement that creates purposeful and sometimes ironic dissonance against this landscape," Hargrove comments.

Following the album's completion in the summer of 2012, the band flew back to the States and hit the road on the Vans' Warped Tour, allowing them to preview the songs in front of an audience prior to the album's release…and the reaction was great. They also lent their writing and production skills to B.O.B's Strange Clouds with the track "Chandelier."

From the instantly hooky pop of "Sunday School Dress" to the build and undertow of "Anthem," a dreamy yet subdued melodic number, through the piano-driven eeriness of "Magnolia Parade," one listen to Hydrogen Child makes it clear that Super Water Sympathy can write a memorable pop song.

This is also evident on the anthemic "Purple Poppies," a sweeping, mid-tempo number that showcases the band's ability to mix orchestration with Hughes' voice, allowing her powerful pipes free range, but making sure the music is clear and crisp as well.

"We try to make the lyrics paint a picture, but at the same time to conflict and contrast the mood and landscape of the music, thus giving balance and harmony in the two textures," comments Clyde. "Our band's sound is built around the ambience of Jason's pads against Ansley's voice. We like to make things blend very deeply and high at the same time. I would say our sound is ambient-pop-rock."

With comparisons bound to conjure up images of Coldplay, The Fray, and Florence + the Machine, regardless of what you think of those acts, Super Water Sympathy can play to the pop crowd, but Hughes' stage presence and commanding voice also ensures they fit right at home on Vans' Warped Tour, who has invited them back this year.

When asked how he feels the band has grown between the two records, Clyde isn't shy. "Hydrogen Child came out a lot bigger and healthier than what we were imagining. Compared to Vesper Belle, this album was a big step forward," he says. "We spent a lot of time working together in group-think sessions next to rivers and R.V. parks. Most of the writing was done in group sessions as was the production rather than individual ideas. We also adapted a unified idea of a concept and stuck to it."

"This album is much more of an organically collaborative effort as far as all the members go," he continues. "A lot of Vesper Belle was the adaptation of a lot of our musical projects we had been working on before the band had formed to a certain ambient sound. This album is the product of all of us writing together and knowing what we sound like, so the writing style is more congruent. Although, there are some songs that certain members had heavier hands in, this album is a true band collaboration. Every member of the band has written lyrics and music for this album."

One change in production that brought stellar results on Hydrogen Child is the band went for a lot more natural sounds with Hughes' voice. "We decided to not do much to Ansley's voice [in post-production]. We are suckers for reverb and delay, but we left it pretty raw and dry - and it really came out nicely. She has such a viciously elegant voice that to let it stand alone against the wild seemed natural."

Hydrogen Child is truly a leap forward for Super Water Sympathy, and Water Pop has never sounded so good. The band plans on touring relentlessly across the United States (with plans to tour Europe, too) to expose and share their sound with the masses. Come check it out, the Water is just right…!

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