Streetlight Records

Tree City
Artist: Robbers On High Street
Format: CD
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When Steve Mercado sings "You can't go back" on "Descender," one of the cryptically named tunes on Tree City, it's hard to take him seriously. As you might expect from the band's name, their music reverberates with the sounds of the seminal British groups of the early to mid '60s. The guitars clash and clatter like early Kinks in the guitars, the keyboard parts (and Mercado's vocals) recall the dreamy piano-driven pop of the Zombies, and nice Beatle-y harmonies are sprinkled throughout. There's also a lot of space in the arrangements; big expansive guitar chords hang in the air, giving the music an uncluttered feel, as the keyboards dance brightly in the background and the rhythm section lays down a measured, minimal beat. The moody arrangements make the most of the band's measured tempos and generate a feeling of deep melancholy. From the tearful folk pop of "Big Winter" to the subtle girl group soul of "Price and Style," the band communicates more with ambiance than with its words. Mercado's beautiful tenor is perfect for pop, and the lyrics that break through the muddy mix are clever, if slightly oblique; a better vocal mix, or more attention to enunciation, would make these tunes even more memorable.
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