Album Review :
Sucré - A Minor Bird

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Artist: Sucré
Album: A Minor Bird
Release Date: 4/10/12
Label: Red Velvet
Reviewer: Joshua Hedlund

Track Listing:

  1. Hiding Out
  2. When We Were Young
  3. Troubled Waters
  4. Light Up
  5. Chemical Reaction
  6. Say Something
  7. Persuasion
  8. Stampede
  9. No Return
  10. Endless Sleep
  11. The Cliff Waltz

Sucré is the French word for “sweet.” It’s also the name of a side project created by the recently married Darren King (MuteMath) and Stacey DuPree (Eisley), along with multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Larson (who has played piano with MuteMath). DuPree said their new album, A Minor Bird, will “always be a reminder of the season of our lives where Darren and I were engaged and got married.”

Sucré mixes the charming melancholy of Eisley with the rich indie layers of Imogen Heap and the nostalgic folk splashes of She & Him. Sometimes DuPree’s cautious voice holds a phrase over exuberant strings like a tender scene from an old musical (“No Return”); at other times she powers through a decidedly modern indie pop groove (“Chemical Reaction”). The strings on the catchy “When We Were Young” have a huge hook (probably Larson’s handiwork), while the ethereal “Endless Sleep” is led by a beautiful piano part that’s almost classical.

What really sets Sucré apart, though, is the rhythmic work of MuteMath’s mastermind drummer Darren King. King transplants his percussive creativity to a different genre without the slightest inhibition, and it’s a treat to hear him explore a variety of grooves that stay as far as possible from a predictable beat without detracting at all from DuPree’s melodious foreground.

King’s kit is accented with lots of tambourines and clicks and clacks and other unidentifiable sounds shuffling through various levels of reverb with the utmost precision. The end of “Chemical Reaction,” together with its electronic layers, is the closest we get to the all-out controlled chaos we’re used to hearing from MuteMath. At the other end of the spectrum, however, is “Persuasion,” with no percussion at all, softly guided along by an acoustic guitar, lush strings, and vocal layers.

Lyrically there aren’t very many spiritual references, not that this project was intended to be otherwise. “Endless Sleep” calls out, “Heaven, please help me,” but that’s about as overt as it gets. “Chemical Reaction” celebrates the emotion of human attraction. “When We Were Young” seems to vaguely speak of growing up and losing the care-free feelings of youth. “Persuasion” speaks of falling for someone: “I started learning / And then you started a yearning / With your very sweet persuasion.” “Say Something” evokes uncertainty: “You stole my heart and in the dark / You say that you were right there / But you’re not.” There’s plenty of joy here, but – in classic DuPree fashion – also frequent dashes of concern and unfulfillment.

Overall: Sucré features the enchanting combination of Stacey DuPree’s sweet yet reserved voice, Jeremy Larson’s sweeping instrumental arrangements, and Darren King’s passionate percussive rhythms. Altogether it’s a unique and enjoyable indie sound that grows on you with each listen. I don’t know how they found time along with their other bands and personal lives to make this album happen, but many people will be glad they did. (If you haven’t heard them before, you can watch a music video for “When We Were Young” here.)

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3