The Infidels – The Infidels – EP Review
Lots of rad stuff happening on this new self-titled record from The Infidels, based out of York, PA. I don’t know too much about’em so far…this is my first experience with’em, even though they’ve technically been around since about 2009. Led by Ian Dellinger – who will reveal himself to be quite the songwriter over the course of the set-list on this EP – they released a record in 2010, they came back in 2013 with a brand-new addition to their lineup with cellist Amy Mummert joining the band…and then…and then I think we’re here where we are in 2019 & up to-date? They released a teaser for this record back in January as well…I suppose there’s that; but the rest of the information on this crew…still seems to be a bit of a mystery! But I’m not here to write a biography at the moment anyway…so I’ll stay in my lane…for now. Let’s talk some tunes!
You gotta appreciate the smooth-rock ride into the beginning of this new self-titled album – you glide right into this experience with “On My Knees” as the record starts with a killer dose of accessibility. What’s not to dig here? If you like Indie, if you like Rock, if you like the classics – you’ll get a blend of all that & more here with this first tune…at times, it’s kind of close to something like a “Bittersweet Symphony” without the full symphony part goin’ on the music or so much melancholy, but that same kind of comforting aura that floats through the main melody of this song. There’s a great chance I’d argue that “On My Knees” would be the best single to release from this record to entice listeners in – their energy is kinetic, their style & attitude are all cool as all hell, the entire vibe of this song puts out a warmth like the sun that continually surrounds you in colorful, rhythmic, and sweet sound. Vocals are great, production is excellent…everything comes together here for The Infidels early on to create an awesome first impression and one of the best representations of what this band is capable of overall. For my own personal taste, there’s a couple cuts that’ll rival this one later on down the road through this journey of sound…but there’s no doubt that “On My Knees” is right up there with the best of the best on this record and starts everything off on the right track with a seriously inspired energy & vibe.
“Phony” heads for a bit more of an underground, raw, and real sound…you’ll notice that dip in the production a lil’ here as the second song starts up with less punch in the mix than the opening cut presented…mind you, also entirely different vibes at work here too. The Infidels don’t shy away from that rawness…and I’m cool with that, like I said, it gives the music that underground, Indie, and College-Rock kind of sound, which I’ve always been a fan of. To me, it’s all about the ideas, all the time – and when you listen to how The Infidels shift into the chorus of this song, I mean…like…how could you not love that? Each of these tunes will always reveal something seriously unique about their songwriting – “Phony” is no exception to that rule; while the impact of the sound might not have that brightness & spark that “On My Knees” has – the slow drawl of Ian’s vocals have massive amounts of charm, swagger, and appealing melody on this track will still make an impact on listeners for sure. The Infidels undeniably head into a much more melancholy vibe on this second cut and dial back that energy they start you off with on this self-titled record to take you on a sleepier trip, but the songwriting still speaks strongly, as does their combined performance.
Might just be me, but I actually hear a little Bowie in “Serenity” in the way that The Infidels play this tune. I’m a bit at odds with the lyrics reaching so constantly for the rhyme-scheme in the verses personally, but as far as catchiness & hooks go, “Serenity” actually delivers quite a few of’em. I’ll say this – I had a few moments of, ‘I seem to really like this, but how come?’ as I listened…I’m usually more resistant to a track with a lyrical-flow like this, but I think I gotta admit that this track just works. There’s a really easygoing vibe that runs throughout this song and the words that Ian’s written – the cello from Amy is a HUGE part of why I’m sure I ended up digging this track as much as I did…ultimately, there’s a lot of energy & spark to this tune that actually makes it a really strong candidate to be a single from this EP. “Serenity” is also the longest song on the record by nearly a minute, making full use of the wonderfully uplifting feeling that comes through radiantly in the music; they maximize their time in the extra space this song has by really allowing the hooks in both the vocals AND music to really shine. Because ultimately, that’s what I’m loving about “Serenity” when it comes right down to it – you get an incredible balance of between the two main elements of the song, vocals & music, perhaps more than any other cut on the record. Singers will always find listeners that’ll sing along with’em – but it’s music like this that makes such a memorable impact that you’ll remember the hooks in the instrumentation as well. There’s a tinge of progressive tendencies in the writing & sound of this tune…not enough to stop the masses from sticking with it & singing along by any means, which is good on all-fronts; gives the bulk of the people something they can sincerely get into, enjoy, even dance along with – and for the rest of us music-heads and musicians out there, you can also dig on the impressive musicianship in The Infidels.
While it might be a strange tune for many listeners out there to experience with its bizarre-meets-beautiful melody, “Valkyrie” was where The Infidels completely sold me on their band, 100%. There is just something so remarkably like…MAN…how do you even describe a song like this? This is a rarity, to say the least. I…hmmm…I don’t know for a certain fact that I’d expect everyone to ‘get this’ like I am – but to me, there’s a gorgeous magic & melody that heads straight for the heartstrings flowing through this tender tune…I found every second of “Valkyrie” absolutely captivating, fascinating, and pretty much all-around spellbinding. For as small and tiny and innocent as this song appears, it sure made a massive impact on me…I think Ian puts in an exceptional performance on the vocals here that couldn’t possibly be duplicated…some will argue that it could be more rounded out perhaps, but I wouldn’t touch what he’s done here with a ten foot pole to make any kind of changes whatsoever…there is a superbly honest sound on “Valkyrie.” It sounds like it could fit right onto the Into The Wild Soundtrack…how about that? There’s that intangible strength & awesomeness in the frantic fragility of the vocals that’s impossible to describe…Ian’s not doing an impression of Eddie Vedder here by any stretch, he’s got his own sound, but the vibe to the song is very similar to his solo effort on Into The Wild and Ian is equally suited for it. Don’t know what else I can tell ya beyond the fact that every time I spun through the record, “Valkyrie” remained my personal favorite…there’s great tunes on this self-titled EP and I don’t expect everyone out there to reach this same conclusion – but hopefully a few of you out there hear this gem like I do.
“From The Sky” is a solid example of the Art/Indie-Rock that’s taking place within The Infidels. There is room to grow, room to evolve still…mostly in the production, but the most important ingredient – the IDEAS – are certainly all here in this band. Performances too – I wouldn’t take any points away from them there really either…the band is all clicking into place together right where they should be. Songs like “From The Sky” and “Forsaken” to follow take on a bit deeper & dustier sound overall in the texture of the atmosphere of the music, which you’ll feel come through in the final production…it might be missing a bit of the shine & punch these songs could potentially have, but that’ll come. I never worry about that stuff, nor should they…the bottom line is they’re more than on the right track and these songs as they are now, are more than listenable & still translate the quality in their ideas & musicianship, revealing what makes this band special in many ways. In contrast to that rawness in the vocals Ian brought to “Valkyrie” moments earlier, Ian reveals just how smooth he can be, adding in extra swagger and brilliant melody to his words on the microphone throughout “From The Sky” as he sings – absolutely love his performance on this cut as well. Words are some of my favorite on this album as well – there’s a genuine sweetness to “From The Sky” that comes soaring through the lyrics with a real humble honesty to their sentiment. Through the remarkable shift into the chorus that you’ll find on this “From The Sky” – The Infidels have uncovered another extraordinary & noteworthy highlight on this EP. The way Amy’s cello backs-up, complements, and reinforces the melody in the music being made in the band surrounding her, the way that Ian slips right into the moment and makes the most of every syllable on “From The Sky” – definitely a track where you can hear they’re all locked right in and focused.
The deep Alt-Folksiness of “Forsaken” will pull you in for the sheer mix of tension and drama you’ll find throughout this tune. Exceptional cello from Amy once again…no surprise there, she’s been extraordinary through this set of songs on their self-titled record and is a massive part of what makes The Infidels have such an identifiable sound & style of their own. Great harmonies on “Forsaken” – all-around, it’s a solid cut that really has atmosphere you can feel and a wonderfully defined vibe that blends a murky mysteriousness with really clever hooks in the writing & structure. Overall, I think they’ve got a really cool cut with “Forsaken” that commands our attention from moment with its deeper & darker sound…like there’s an audible urgency that requires you to pay close attention somehow, almost beyond your own control. The guitars at the VERY end of this cut are completely badass too – that’s something you’ll end up wishing you might have heard a few times earlier on, or that The Infidels would have continued to expand on this tune from there. I’ll take what I can get though – I always do. I think the combination between male & female vocals they’ve got as well is a huge advantage – there are really smart parts written into these tunes like “Forsaken” and excellent harmonies that add a ton of depth to their ideas & sound. This track has a ton of advantages when it comes right down to it though – it’s gripping on a whole different level…like…it almost feels like you’d get in trouble if you DIDN’T listen to it somehow…or like this vibe on “Forsaken” would be sure to come back & haunt you later on maybe.
“Another Place And Time” is a solid & inventive cut to end their self-titled EP on…a bit more energetic in its sound, pace, & movement, also a bit brighter in the Pop/Rock mix of the attitude in the music at times as well. Although…the actual ending of the song itself…well…not quite sure what happened there. The Infidels are kind of one of those chameleon-esque oddities like the band Cake is – in a way, you kind of know what you’ll get from The Infidels sound-wise if you’re listening & you’re a fan – but at the same time, you never really know which direction they will take their music next, which keeps your ears guessing…and I like that. Make sense? As their bio promises, each of their songs really do represent the band and what they do…they have a genuine identity in their overall sound, but as to how they’ll present it to you, in what form, style, or structure…is anyone’s guess – maybe even their own! “Another Place And Time” is like Post-Punk-Pop…it’s got those low-toned vocals & energy on the mic from the Post-Punk half, and a Punk-Pop catchiness in the back & forth movement from the music that is kinda built to snag your attention with ease through the rhythmic groove it creates. Lots of ways in for listeners and another decent cut from a record full of really cool ideas…The Infidels end their new self-titled EP and exit the experience on firm ground. I love that each song on this record had something new to offer, some new twist on their own sound, some new idea, some kind of spin on a melody that would turn a good experience into a great one…they’ve definitely got a lot of tools to work with, a lot of talent in their vocals, instrumentation, & songwriting…very much looking forward to more from this crew – their music could take them anywhere and I have a feeling we’d all always be happy to ride along with’em, wherever that goes.
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