Sherwood - QU (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


QU (2009)


Sherwood made their splash on MySpace Records just two years ago with A Different Light, a bloated and painfully inconsistent album that ruptured the promise shining on the band's previous efforts (a self-titled EP in 2004 and the debut full-length a year later). Musically competent and sugary indie-inflected power-pop, QU is a more focused and realized effort that, while hardly breaking musical ground, sits on the foundation firmly enough.

Brief opener "Shelter" begins with layers of vocal harmony in an obvious debt to Queen before shifting into "Hit the Bottom," a perfectly pleasant, mid-tempo, acoustic-accompanied sing-along with subtly fuzzy synth. It's far from mind-blowing, but the melodies are solid and warm enough to carry the song along. The cheesiness is a bit inflated for the next one up, "Not Gonna Love" and its brief, vague Carribean vibes, but they hold it down OK.

That opening trio of tracks essentially sets the stage for QU: cheerful, cautiously sunny songs that bear moderately pleasing melodies and structure, brought forth with the occasional touch of successful experimentation. But they're also composed with a more economical sense than A Different Light, which certainly helps things, too. And from the superb vocal interplay and skittering percussion in "Around You" to the bass-driven bumping rhythm in "Free" and the seriously "Passenger Seat" vibe of closer "No Better," the second half is just perky and lively enough to retain some interest until the end.

QU? More like cute. Either way, it's a definite step back up from their last album; that much can be said.

Hit the Bottom
Maybe This Time
Make It Thru