Athens, Ga. orch-pop ensemble plays to the cheap seats
On Azar, Venice is Sinking’s goal seems to have been to create huge, undemanding music, relentless in its pursuit of sentimental bombast—and the band certainly can’t be faulted for poor execution. Crunchy guitar-rock glows with brass fanfare on “Okay,” banjo twangs through silvery synth-pop on “Ryan’s Song,” weepy chamber strings embrace glinting electric leads on “Iron Range,” keeping things interesting—or at least as interesting as an album clinging to one high-pitched emotional register can be. Keyboardist James Sewell’s quartet of Azar Themes have an ambient delicacy that’s refreshing, in no small part because they abstain from the scenery-chewing co-ed vocals that push much of the album toward a sort of bludgeoning prettiness. The sinking of Venice is a slow, subtle process; Pompeii is Erupting would better describe this group’s melodramatic style.