I don’t really know what I was expecting from this. Their bio locates them as ‘leading the rebirth of the retro vocal ensemble, backed by soul-shaking folk and evocative, vivid lyrics.’ Experience should have prepared me for something a bit soul, a bit sultry, a bit… cabaret, I suppose, which is what we get on the more uptempo songs. Featuring three singers and promising an amalgamation of swing and pop, while drawing inspiration from folk, soul and the Blues, they’re strong on melody and have a family and festival-friendly feel about the tuneful tunes.
The more downtempo ‘Place on Earth’ makes me think of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ at least before it trips into a Corrs-like chorus. Oh yes: ‘Cinematic’ suggests that Onyx & The Red Lips have massive mass-market potential. Not R1, of course, but still. Something cozy and middlebrow. That’s simply an observational statement, and not a criticism per se.
‘Your Soul’ is more slow-paced vintage rock’n’roll than soul, and the urgent, jazzy, brass-stoked groove of ‘Sorry’ slings the sass. Elsewhere, ‘Cherry Lips’ blends grunge, funk, and Britpop without actually being cringeworthy. The harmonious vocal arrangements define their gene-straddling style, and if many of the songs themselves are fairly standard both in terms of arrangement and production, they’re performed with just the right level of pizazz to make them fun without being excessively cheesy, and the musical talent and technical ability is up there.