"The City That Sleeps" by A Silent Film

A Silent Film
The City That Sleeps

Bieler Bros. Records
2010

Review

Wikipedia says that A Silent Film are a "Piano-Rock" band. I think that sort of sounds like an insult. Well, there's plenty of piano on the album and it does rock, so I guess that statement sort of works. But you can not compare these guys to Coldplay.

I liked Coldplay. I really did. It's just that after I heard their first two albums, I felt like I had already heard everything that they were going to make. That coincided with the whole "only girls listen to Coldplay" ethos that has become so prevalent - remember The 40-Year Old Virgin? Now, I don't agree with that. I know plenty of guys who like Coldplay and as I've said before, I liked "Parachutes" and "A Rush Of Blood to the Head". But this is not that.

I guess it was the whole "piano-rock" thing that got me worked up about any sort of Coldplay comparisons as far as this album is concerned. I mean, stylistically what does "piano rock" even mean? So many people equate that sound with Coldplay, but there are a bunch of other bands that make rock music in that style that people haven't grown tired of. Bands like Cold War Kids or Keane - for example.

So what does this have to do with "A Silent Films" impressive album "The City Sleeps"? Simple. Coldplay likes to use piano in their songs, and so do "A Silent Film". Coldplay is insanely popular, so plenty of people equate "piano in the rock song" as "it sounds like Coldplay". But really, "A Silent Film" may feature a piano in their music, but I think that the tone is a bit more rock and roll (less pop)...and the subject manner is so much darker.

Another popular point of comparison for this band is Radiohead. Now that one I don't agree with either, but I think it is closer to the mark than the Coldplay comparison - especially if you are talking about the vocal range of the lead singer. Robert Stevenson is the name of the lead singer for "A Silent Film" and I think he may have the same range as early Thom York. It remains to be seen if this band can continue to evolve their sound to dizzying heights like Radiohead has, but I definitely feel that the potential is there.

The single that is getting everyone's attention right now is "You Will Leave A Mark" and yes, it is a very, very good song.

There's an edge to the song that permeates the majority of the album.

I am of the west
I am fair skinned
I deserve a bullet in my chest
If I have no religion I have no reason to be scared
If I am going to hell then I just don't care

That oh, my heart is bursting again
Don't leave this mark
Your eyes are turning away

But the single in no means is representative of their range. On the excellent "Sleeping Pills" the band sounds a bit more New-Wave than you might expect from the single. These guys are great at making compelling hooks and melodies. "Lamplight" and "Firefly At My Window" are also great examples of what this band is about. The tone of the album leans a bit to the somber sound, and yes there is plenty of piano to be found. But give it a listen and I think you'll find that in spite of the seemingly limitless comparisons you might want to make with this band, you'll find that they stand out fine on their own.

4.200 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Driven by Their Beating Hearts (04:16)
2. Sleeping Pills (03:08)
3. You Will Leave a Mark (03:38)
4. Thirteen Times the Strength (03:57)
5. Julie June (04:13)
6. One Wrong Door (03:44)
7. Firefly in My Window (04:20)
8. Lamplight (03:52)
9. Feather White (03:32)
10. Aurora (04:16)