Steven Mark comes through with a very poppy style that really looks more towards Sean Lennon than the (comparable) hard rock of the Foo Fighters. The style of “Aloneaphobe” really feels as if Mark walked out of the early seventies, specifically taking equal parts Jimmy Buffet and James Taylor to make a “third wave” of music. While tracks like “Weak” are not the most innovative in terms of arrangement or experimentation, the quality which the track conforms to is high enough to win over any nay-sayers. “Aloneaphobe” is a disc of hits, where a track like “Yesterday’s Smile” will insinuate itself into listener’s ears, deftly using violin and slide guitar to come up with an euphonia that is rarely found outside the most over-produced pop track. The shuffling nature of the track is reminiscent of “A Boy Named Goo”-era Goo Goo Dolls, and really continues the same blueprint that was laid out during the first strains of the disc.
Further tracks maintain much the same sound without major modification to what had work for Mark – this is perhaps the biggest stumbling block that ey has on “Aloneaphobe”. The tracks all maintain acertain poppiness and inoffensive set of guitar/drum work, but this shot is not scattered enough. When Mark slows down the tempo of “Fairmaiden”, the disc finds itself caught on a set of vocals that are not strong enough to pull the track along. The track was enervated by the incidental guitar and piano; without any meat (beyond the Spartan bass) to keep fans interested, Mark honestly feels as if ey is in a stream without a paddle. It is the follow-up track to “Fairmaiden”, “Narcissus” that we see Mark desparetely trying to struggle free from the rut of the previous tracks. “Narcissus” has a number of movements (moving from a Meatloaf-esque sound to something resembling the Eagles).
The disc is well-done, there is no challenging that but what is “Aloneaphobe’s” largest failing is the lack of experimentation endemic throughout the disc. This soft-spoken, innocuous dynamic takes Mark only so far; trying to rely purely one this style makes much of this disc purely optional. Here’s hoping that this relatively-new comer to the music scene (this is only eir second album) finds that ey can express eirself in different directions and still come up with a cohesive sound to a disc. Maybe a look into “But If You Look To The Right’s” harder-rocking (for Mark) style will be a boon.
Top Tracks: Narcissus, But If You Look To The Right
Steven Mark – Aloneaphobe / 2005 Basset /http://www.stevenmarkmusic.com / Reviewed 26 June 2005