Visions – Dead Sea Sirens (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Dead Sea Sirens represent not only everything innovative and exciting about making music in the modern age but also a perfect example of creativity and problem-solving in the face of lockdown restrictions and enforced isolation in the time of the pandemic.

I guess the fact that the band is made up of people from all over the globe means that they have anything but a parochial outlook on music-making. And why should they? Technology has long provided the bridge over the gulf created by musician’s lack of proximity, so why can’t it do the same for social distancing.

So after a year of getting to grips with musical collaboration at a distance, …the answer seems to be three parts Whatsapp voice messages, one part insomnia…they have delivered their debut album Visions. And what a corker it is.

The term rock seems to be too much of a loaded word, one which comes with all sorts of baggage and preconceptions, but rock this album certainly is. But quick on the heels of such a label comes a whole stream of caveats. Alongside the expected foot-on-the-monitor grunt and bluesy grooves, there is no shortage of pop sensibility and sonic lateral thinking, something that takes the music out of the usual rock and roll realms and into something more accessible, more mainstream, something that straddles both the cultish and the commercial.

Again, the opener, sets the scene perfectly, modern alt-rock which right from the off displays their unwillingness to be easily pigeon-holed through a brilliant blend of dancefloor vibes and fret-board technicalities, alternative grace and traditional grunt… and that’s gonna confuse the hell out of patched denim jacket brigade. But as much as Dead Sea Sirens is happy to acknowledge where they come from in the grand scheme of musical history, this opening salvo clearly signals that where they are going to be the much more interesting prospect.

And with that statement made, straight away they switch to a brooding, acoustic lead, balladic offering in the form of Racing to the Edge, a smart pop-rock move, graceful, beguiling, tasteful. Wrong Side of The Tracks proves that they are not averse to putting their own spin on some classic rhythm and blues and the title track is garbage….I mean, Garbage, well, at least the sort of song that Shirley and the crew would love to have put their name to.

They are also adventurous enough to dispense with the idea of a big finish and instead wrap things up with the gorgeously understated Can You Hear Me, the perfect showcase for Christine Penzes confident yet crystalline voice, although anyone only half paying attention will have already been bowled over by her vocals.

And in case you are wondering, the name, as cool as it is, wasn’t just plucked from the ether. Being based in Jordan meant that the musicians have spent so much time driving to and from gigs along the Jordan Valley with the iconic Dead Sea as a backdrop that the name just seemed to be a perfect choice.

A great debut album, one that reminds us that rock music, like every other creative form, needs to move with the times. It is okay to glance over your shoulder now and again, and Visions certainly does that, but as a band, Dead Sea Sirens are much more interested in helping to write the next chapter of rock music rather than dwelling too much on what has gone before.

And that is exactly as it should be.

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