When Quinn Walker, lead singer of Brooklyn outfit Suckers, sings at the top of his voice “Good God, it’s getting on my nerves again”, on the opening track of their debut self-titled EP, it does indeed sound like David Bowie doing a David Byrne impression; something which the blogosphere has been at pains to point out since the EP’s release in 2009. But as we carry on through the six tracks, you start to think that maybe he actually sounds a lot more like Alec Ounsworth from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah doing his David Byrne impression. And then something becomes clear.
Suckers greatest obstacle is their point of origin. After all, when was the last time that you discovered an un-hyped Brooklyn band? Suckers are being short-sightedly lumped in with the contingent of bands from that U.S. city, but the scenario begs several questions: just because at times Suckers sound like The Beach Boys, does that mean that they actually sound like Animal Collective? Or because some of their material leans towards the anthemic, does that mean they are akin to MGMT? Instinctively, you’d have to say no.
And you’d be right, because even though they flirt with pop, country, glam and experimental rock Suckers are actually a lot more symmetrical than what the comparisons, or indeed the band would have you believe. The Bowie, Byrne or Ounsworth aping of Beach Queen doesn’t disguise the shimmering pop track underneath. Nor do the Brian Wilson inspired harmonies on Easy Chairs detract from the straightforward melodies that comprise this standout track. It Gets Your Body Movin’ is no doubt specifically designed for an encore closing sing-along, but also manages to emphasise that this EP is actually a lot of fun and more of a primer for their forthcoming debut album than a collection of Suckers greatest material.
The two final songs, Gone is Your Long Black Hair and King of Snakes, didn’t appear on the original EP and both do sound different to the first four tracks. It’s something in Quinn’s vocal delivery that changes, becoming a slightly less smoky version of Matt Berninger from The National. But again, this doesn’t mean that Suckers begin to sound like that band. In fact, King of Snakes sprawls like something different entirely, and is the most eclectic, and in some ways, accomplished track on the album.
Ultimately Suckers aren’t quite original, but nor are they an appropriation either. And it will be interesting to see what kind of sound they settle on (if they settle on one at all) on their debut album. But until that happens, we will at least have this enjoyable, at time infectious EP to tide us over.