Electronic-based indie rock, Sharks and Minnows start off “The Cost of Living” with the electronically influenced pop gem “Sunday Driver”. Not pigeonholing themselves into one specific genre of music, different tracks continue the thread of strong lyrics and pop-influenced hooks with “Slow Learner”. A tad quieter than The Weakerthans, a little more musically apt than Weezer, and a google less annoying that Matthew Sweet, Sharks and Minnows play the most inoffensive, hardest-driving tracks out currently. “Cleopatra Song” starts out slower, in a more deliberate vein, only later taking a slightly more strung-out guitar line and stuttering synthesizers. Upping the ante and tempo with “The Slip”, Sharks and Minnows start taking up the intensity of a Jawbreaker with an updated sound. “The Cost of Living” is a very deceptive album; while the disc feels as if it is hurtling towards a conclusion at the fastest possible speed, Sharks and Minnows are plugging away at a much slower speed, the deception being caused by the incredible amount of cohesion by the band.
Spot on with the recording, sounding rounded-out without falling into the vices of being over or Spartanly produced, Sharks and Minnows put out a disc that both technically and musically sounds nigh-perfect. Cresting half-way through the disc, the bands piece de resistance, “Past Life Regression” is much more electronically driven than rest of its sisters and brothers on the disc. “Baby Boom” is much more contemplative of a track than “Past Life Regression”, but doesn’t drag even with this reduced tempo, just being that much more capable of expressing emotion. Moving into the Schroder (as in Peanuts’ pianist)-style piano in “Shy”, Christopher’s vocals provide the perfect middle ground between the higher-pitched synthesizer and lower-pitched drums.
Sharks and Minnows the perfect example of a band that is able to freely move around genres and general sounds to create a style of music that is distinctly theirs. “The Cost of Living” shows a band that is mature, doing more in five years together than some bands have done in an entire twenty year career. Few bands are able to keep such a cohesive nature to all of the tracks on a disc without falling into the pitfall that is repetition, and yet Sharks and Minnows are able to create an album that is practically a concerto with 16 different, distinct movements. Enjoyable, able to be repeated time and time again, “The Cost of Living” is a landmark album for this band.
Top Tracks: Cleopatra Song, Past Life Regression.
Sharks and Minnows – The Cost of Living / 16 Tracks / 2004 Two Sheds Music / http://www.sharksandminnowsmusic.com / http://www.twoshedsmusic.com / Released 20 April 2004 / Reviewed 25 April 2004