How often have you heard music on the radio and said “ah, they don’t write them like that anymore”? Well, Ryan Helman has done, is doing, and will continue to do just that! So many bands or artists doing the retro rock/punk/pop scene just go through the motions, Ryan sends a positive shock-wave to the system – his “Thats The Girl” album is right up there with the best work from those heyday 70s and early 80s eras.
So melodically memorable are all the album’s seventeen songs that at any given time I might have no less than three of them whirring around in my head at the same time, only to be replaced by another three and so on. The chunky chord changes are as delicious as we’ve come to expect from this genre of music as is the standard of the musicianship from all concerned. How Ryan Helman’s singing voice manages to retain the vigor of a twenty-something-year-old is another mystery to me.
What’s interesting with this effort is the use of crisp production and spectacular backing vocals, making “Thats The Girl” an absolute corker of an album quality-wise. The wry lyrics, beautiful harmonies, melodic tunes and sublime playing are all in place. And then there are the high-energy adrenalin pumping guitar riffs, sometimes overdriven, sometimes clean, but never bland. Helman is a skilled guitarist who places just as much emphasis on tone and timbre as he does on ear catching chord progressions.
Just about any of the tracks on “Thats The Girl” could have been singles; what’s interesting about them is the differences between them. They are all Ryan Helman’s tunes to be sure, but each has different arrangement and instrument mixes. There’s just an amazing range here. It’s definitely not seventeen tracks of the same stuff using different chords. The first two songs, “That’s The Girl Im After” and “Ericas Garden” quickly plays testimony to that fact. The only common denominators are those angst-filled guitar riffs which Helman distributes in heavy does around the album and the layered melodic choruses.
The songs here are infused with rock confidence and punk rock cockiness, all coming with hooks aplenty, slapping drums and bass lines that kick butt. They will have you football cheering and stamping your feet in no time flat. There are so many memorable moments on this album that pointing them out is beyond the point, they just craft themselves into ear candy. Though “Federica”, “Annas Been Letting You Down”, “Desert Of Lies”, “Lisa Is A Headbanger”, One Day At A Time” and “Taken Away The View” are probably my personal favorites.
I’ve have listened to pretty much every important emo, punk, screamo and alternative pop-rock music album released during the last few years and few achieve what Ryan Helman’s tunes do here. Whether it’s pounding high-energy or slower songs, Helman never loses his stylish melodic coolness in any of the tracks, which means you can almost always sing along to the choruses if you want. It’s simply amazing that Ryan Helman keeps coming up with material this good.
I know an album is good when I find myself pressing the repeat button more often than I do the search button. That’s exactly what happened with “Thats The Girl”!