Hailing from Tennessee, Savoy Motel are an indie band deeply rooted in funk and prog rock. The album starts off with ‘Souvenir Shop Rock,’ which feels decidedly funky. After this first toe dip into the ‘Savoy Motel’ pool, you might think that you know what to expect from the coming tracks. As you ease in, the water now up to your chest, you start to swim — funky, funky, funky—but then, the water starts to change colour. Gradually, slowly, without even a hint that something is different, the reality that was the pool fades and chips away like cheap veneer; an eyeball has replaced the sun. You are in an endless ocean of rainbow colours, not dissimilar to an oil puddle on hot pavement, but much more pleasing. The transition is not jarring, in fact it is seamless, as the album introduces prog elements so organically that the listener arrives in a wholly different album than the one they were expecting from the get go.
Each track adds a different element to the mix, from odd electronic buzzes to sporadic guitar solos. Certain songs also include chip tune segments that are reminiscent of 8-bit video games.
The group boasts that they use a “Maestro brand drum machine, (featured on many hits of the 1970s).” The inclusion of this tool shows the eagerness of the band to draw from that era’s vibe. Many of the songs have elements that feel familiar, as if they are directly inspired by the features of older songs. The intro to ‘Sorry People,’ sounds as if it were made in the same environment as ‘Mama’ by Genesis or Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World.’ From there, the same track goes on to reintroduce funk into the mix, before going on to sound like it’s part of the Flaming Lips’ catalogue.
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The self-titled release is the group’s debut album, after only two years as a band. For a first outing, ‘Savoy Motel’ is a fantastic release by a group that understands the art of crafting an album that is stylistically coherent from end to end.