Sherwood’s sophomore effort his stores May 31st on Side Cho Records, and it just may be the happiest thing to hit your ears all year. In an explosion of pop and rock, Sherwood has not abandoned the style of music experienced on their self-titled EP, but rather embraced it. The EP was full of generic tracks that were easily forgettable, and it seemed like it was time for Sherwood to add some flair to their musicianship or forever be lost in the world of piano-pop emo rock. The EP had some moments of pop bliss to it, and Sherwood has taken those parts they did best and blown it up into an excellent full-length album. Well-produced and full of tender, beautiful melodies, Sing, But Keep Going is an outstanding pop record to transition the seasons into summer.
It’s apparent that Sherwood isn’t breaking any rules on this record, but instead they’ve created an incredibly tight album with very few holes. I have a ton of respect for the band for staying true to a style of music and making it as good as possible. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, there’s no crazy transitions or hugely varied song structures, but each song is its own little morsel of sugar pop. The first track “We Do This to Ourselves” starts the mood off right, with an instantly memorable chorus with gentle backing vocals, hand claps, and a group vocal breakdown. “Traveling Alone” matches vocal melodies to harmonizing guitar parts. The vocals skate the line between soft and whiney, but the whine aspect is normally nullified by the great balancing of backup vocals. The album progresses nicely with the darker and slower paced track “The Town That You Live In.” The lyrics aren’t deep by any means, but the accessible tone of voice matched with lyrics about flowers being in bloom and friendship brings a smile to the face. It’s just great pop music, structured well and produced even better.
The fourth song, “Lake Tahoe,” is easily one of the strongest tracks on the record. Brush strokes on the snare are matched with bells while a beautiful melody sings lyrics about childhood and missing a father. There’s also vivid memories being conveyed through the lyrics, “And I trace the railroad through mountains and watch the trees/The white powder resting on their leaves/As I pulled a blanket over my knees.” These personal lyrics are matched with varied drum patterns that keep the song interesting. It’s just an outstanding, slow pop song that stirs up a serious amount of emotion through the images it conveys. “I’ll Wait For You” is an upbeat song that is introduced by a lone drum beat and guitar riff, kicking into a head-nodding verse. The vocal rhythm lines up nicely to the music, as the drums fills are in the exact right place, the chord changes right where you want them to be. This is essentially the crux of the record, its greatest asset and yet it’s greatest downfall. Everything is right where you expect it to be, the progressions, the choruses, etc. But while this can detract from a lot of bands, the effect on Sherwood’s music is minimal due to the personable lyrics, instrumentation, and vocals. Songwriting is what it all boils down to, and Sherwood writes pop-rock better than just about anybody in the genre.
Of course, it goes without saying that any album that takes relatively no chances is going to have its downsides as well. “Something Worth Knowing” lacks energy and a good hook, making it near unbearable to listen to. A song can only get worse to listen to if it’s already not enjoyable and you can predict every transition. There are a few more tracks along these lines, but thankfully those moments of boredom are infrequent. The second half of the record definitely loses a lot of energy, and the pop begins to wear a bit thin. This is the type of album that is amazing in small doses, but when extended to 12 tracks begins to be a bit much. Thankfully, the final track, “The Last to Know,” is a creative acoustic song with a bouncy bass line, flowing acoustic song, and an almost western feel to it.
All in all, Sherwood has released a very solid record. It’s a huge improvement from their previous work, and if you have even a pinch of a pop-rock sweet tooth, you’re going to love this record. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary, just expect the ordinary done a thousand times better than anybody else. The production is some of the best I’ve heard all year, crystal clear and thick. It’s truly an album that can restore your faith in a genre that’s been rehashed hundreds of times in the past 5 years. Pick this album up when it comes out, pop it in your CD player on the beach, and watch the sun set. It could easily become the soundtrack to your summer.