Tony Sly - Sad Bear (Cover Artwork)

Tony Sly

Tony Sly: Sad BearSad Bear (2011)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 2
User Rating:

Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Don't people form new bands anymore? Your beloved '90s punk band breaks up and suddenly you become that girl who stops dating anyone once her "one and only" doesn't work out but on a few drunken occasions finds her way back into the bed of the one who scorned her. Well maybe that person doesn't exis.
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Don't people form new bands anymore? Your beloved '90s punk band breaks up and suddenly you become that girl who stops dating anyone once her "one and only" doesn't work out but on a few drunken occasions finds her way back into the bed of the one who scorned her. Well maybe that person doesn't exist but I find myself sitting here questioning whether Tony Sly's latest album Sad Bear really exists either. It seems like it was specifically designed for that scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black's character complains about listening to sad bastard music. Maybe that would have been a better title.

"Dark Corner" serves it's function I suppose, setting the mood with an organ playing something akin to a theme from a '90s Wes Craven film; it is actually a clever little piece of music. Hell of spooky, n'am sayin'. It gives way into the kind of acoustic-driven ballad that Kelly Clarkson might do on an off day if she was a man having a mid-life crisis. Or maybe Evanescence is what it reminds me of with the crunchy electric guitar that comes in. Whatever the case may be it is sort of overwrought and I feel bad saying so as it is obviously coming from the heart. I think that is the problem with a lot of the album. It comes off as kind of anonymous pop music despite it being well-crafted. These songs could be inserted into any made-for-TV movie. It seems to rely on a cultural capital of being "honest".

Tony sounds great on a piano ballad like "Flying South" or an Irish-inflected number like "Devonshire and Crown" but the somewhat self-aware cliche lyrics fall a little flat over the course of an album. It's not like every pop-leaning singer/songwriter was complex lyricist or anything but that's where the pop aspect should come in and you get a giant hook to slap you into next week. There is a severe lack of slapping on Sad Bear.

There gets to this point when you sort of wish that Tony would sing and write the music but have someone else write the lyrics, but that would defeat the purpose of having a ballad-centric personal album. I think if you like Tony's previous solo output and enjoy his voice (which you should, it is great) you will like this. That being said, there isn't a lot of staying power here because it lacks the sharp turning of phrases you might expect with this sort of record and the music relies on the same familiar stylistic choices. It kind of sucks because there was obviously a lot of love put into the album so it is something you really want to love but I don't see it happening for very many people. This is a Sad Bear


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
JimmyNorville (November 3, 2011)

This is actually really fucking good. This review is totally whack, yo.

mynameispoop (October 15, 2011)

In my mind, Tony Sly can do no wrong. Great album. I had big expectations and they were met. He has such a great voice. The lyrics are depressing and have a sad sound to them. Great vocal melodies and many more instruments are used on on this than on 12 Song Program (which I was also a huge fan of). I'm not gonna go ahead and say that my opinion is fact, but my opinion is fact.

MuhammadMormon (October 15, 2011)

I love the cover.
However, I have no desire to hear anything from Tony Sly. NUFAN is boring enough already.

sadastronaut (October 14, 2011)

weird to see the hate for this, this is miles better than 12 song program i actually like it a lot better than Chuck Ragan's release this year. this is slowly becoming one of my favourite releases of the year, and I haven't even thought about NUFAN in years. oh well, each to their own. therapy and flying south are rad.

SloaneDaley (October 14, 2011)

My vandetta and extreme bias against this amazing album has been exposed. For shame self, for shame.

JimmyNorville (October 14, 2011)

"Donā??t people form new bands anymore?" Someone who seems to be upset by the trend of solo albums reviews a solo album and, surprisingly, it ends up with 2 stars. There are are plenty of better solo albums by people who aren't Tony Sly, but this album is better than his last one and certainly at least 3 stars.

bastard_squad (October 14, 2011)

Nice to see Sergie's art on the cover.

maverick (October 14, 2011)

Yeah, this review is pretty much spot-on. I have a huge soft spot for No Use For A Name (specifically Leche Con Carne and Making Friends) but just can't get into Tony's solo stuff at all. Not every punk frontman needs to pick up an acoustic guitar.


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