Although it's been around for some time now and I'm sure that it's had its fair share of success stories, MP3.com is one of those sites that is staggering upon entrance. When it first opened shop, it was possible to search around and find some decent music, but with the explosion of cheaper recording equipment, it's been hit with a glut of music so huge that finding good music has become nearly impossible.
On the flip side of that coin is a group like Silverman. Toiling away with track after track on the site, the group marched their way right up the charts and even scored a trip to play in L.A. (they hail from the UK). While their release Speed Of Life Part One was a compilation of all their tracks from MP3.com, this newest release is more of an actual debut for the group. Signed by the Uglyman label (home of Elbow and I Am Kloot among others), they mix a swig of brit rock with a dab of trip hop and several other genres. Production-wise, it's sharp as knives, and very lush as it flows through a quick 7 tracks and 35 minutes.
While the instrumentation is definitely one of the high points of the group, it's the vocals of Anna Dennis (which are eerily similar to former Sundays singer Harriet Wheeler -- a good thing) that are the focal point of almost every song. Discovered at an acoustic club (sheesh, how many times have we heard that?) by lead man Martin Williams, the duo hit it off, started turning each other on to different musical styles, and got down to making some of their own. Opening with "Ctrl Alt Del," the two mix up vocals (he a crooning baritone, she with soulful highs) over a piano and keyboard touched rhythm heavy track that recalls Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's duet on The Murder Ballads.
"Secret Baby" rumbles along with another chunky beat and some sputtering electronics and keyboards, while Dennis again adds some sultry, yet teasing vocals. "Don't Leave This World Without Me" arrives as one of the most pop-oriented tracks on the disc, mixing an upbeat rhythm track with soaring vocals and looped acoustic guitars. Compared to other tracks on the disc, it's a little over-the-top, but not too glaring. Offsetting a thick wall of guitar feedback with an absolutely lovely shimmering guitar melody, "Can I Have My Heart Back Please" might just be the best track on the entire disc.
As mentioned above, although this is technically just a sophomore release, it's polished very nicely and spans enough emotions over the course of it's short length to keep up contemporaries who fill an hours time. Covering the well-worn subjects of love, sex, and death, the emotive vocals of Dennis and rich instrumentation of the group still show that there's plenty of places to explore. While it mainly falls more into the realm of refined rock music, the subtle and touching closing track of "Nothing I Do, Nothing I Say," proves they can move in other directions as well. A solid debut(?) and a group to keep an eye on.