The recent review of this album in the once mighty Kerrang! Magazine did Sal such a terrible disservice that it deserves mention here; labelled as mere Paramore soundalikes when, in reality, they were plugging away on the circuit when Hayley Williams was still waiting for the first ginger hair to appear in her private place, was the laziest piece of music journalism that I have read in a long while. Female fronted band in 2009? Hmmm, must be a Paramore clone.
Sal sound as much like the tween-friendly auburn auteurs as the sound of my fat fingers hitting the keys whilst typing this article sounds like the millions of feet trampling towards their local newsagents to pick up the latest issue of a weekly rock magazine that has (un)happily picked up the throwaway pieces that the now-defunct Smash Hits pop weekly threw away. See what I did there?
If a ‘Best Live Act’ award wasn’t enough of a platform for Sal to build upon, they achieved a large amount of publicity when their ‘Devil May Care’ song was chosen as the theme tune to accompany the audio book of an all new James Bond novel written by Sebastian Faulks. The song provides a backbone to ‘Conversations With My Therapist’ but will the entire album be a case of 007 or double Oh No?
Vocalist Cat has a set of pipes on her that most females would give up Facebook to possess – quite how they would survive without knowing what their peers were eating for dinner is another matter entirely. There have been times in the past where I have questioned if her voice and the trio of rock solid musicians in the band were the perfect fit. This album answers my questions immediately – the band have never sounded better.
Album opener ‘Get Your Facts Right’ is a spiked piece of pop-fused rock that is a real sugar burst of a song. ‘Swallowed Pride For Hollow Promises’ moves along on a brooding melody line, while the subtle piano-led opening of ‘Jekyll And Hyde’ quickly transforms into a naughty little nod to new wave. The Bond theme ‘Devil May Care’ follows a rough template – it seems to have absorbed a number of classic entries in the 007 song catalogue – and rams home the reasons behind its previous success; Catchy yet effortlessly epic. ‘Ordinary Guy’ quickly knocks any thoughts of dodgy lyrics out of my head with a barbed delivery and a decent hook. ‘Highly Strung, Highly Fun’ is a catchy romp through pop punk territory and album closer ‘A Love Song For Alcoholics’ is a perfect parting gift that kinda sums the band up in three and a half minutes of melodic mauling.
But let’s not forget that the album is called ‘Conversations With My Therapist’. There are times on this record when the multiple personalities of Sal raise their heads and offer more questions than answers. The band – guitarist Noog, bassist Chris and drummer Denley Calais Slade – sound at their best when they really get the chance to kick out the jams. The title track is a perfect example of their desire to drive a song home. Vocalist Cat, however, sounds at her best on the songs where melancholy and mood take over. ‘Invisible’, ‘Perfection’ and ‘Demons’ are great examples of her fantastic voice, with an almost Tori Amos-like quality haunting at least a couple of them. ‘California’ is a prime example of a perfect fusion of these two, often quite different, personas.
Sal have a huge record in them, I just know it. They are probably just a couple of hugely memorable hooks away from making a real dent in the industry. This well produced album is another stepping stone towards that goal. Recommended for those who like their rock music coated in barbs of melody.