• Bryon Harris

Splendid Engine - 'These Songs Will Destroy Us' & 'Something in the Water'

Review by Sylvie Marie & Staff

Splendid Engine is the brainchild of Matt Cheplic. Cheplic is also known as the front-man for The Bitter Chills. With this new project, Cheplic maintains his signature melodic sensibilities while adding modern, electro indie-pop textures against layered stratospheric musical landscapes. Cheplic worked with Mint 400 Records studio owner and producer, Neil Sabatino. Creativity is at the heart of the album as listeners are treated to highly unique rhythmic elements like a marching band drum line and percussive beats created on a washing machine with mallets.

Off These Songs Will Destroy, the title track is mesmerizing. A walking bass line takes us into an entrancing blend of electronic ambience, rhythm guitar, and light percussion as the slow, swaying groove of "These Songs Will Destroy Us" is established. The song's nostalgic and tuneful melody washes over you with a sound that is both familiar and fresh, like a timeless black and white movie that comes to life with new colors and textures.

Cheplic enters singing the chorus, "These songs will destroy us when we hear them years from now. These songs will destroy us, but let's listen anyhow." The mix moves forward, thinning the instrumentation, to allow space for the first verse. Cheplic's voice is calming as he presents a pure and relaxed tone.

The lyrics depict an innocent car drive, playing a song on the radio, and the way the music can shift clouds on a gloomy day. The theme of this song is pure genius. Somehow, the song manages to take us from a moment in the present to a glimpse of life down the road. From the feeling of joyful escape to a reminder that the same song will bring up feelings of loss later in life, Splendid Engine captures the momentary freedom of youth and the bittersweet nature of looking back from an adult perspective.

Another stand-out song is "Something in the Water." This clever song begins with rattling percussive elements and a wavy guitar riff. The song has a punchy indie groove that comes alive with chords on the upbeat, a syncopated bass line, and crisp beats. Like the opening track, a slightly psychedelic rock ambience is heard throughout. This upbeat song also commences on it's catchy chorus. "There's something in the water, there must be something in the water, I bet there's something in the water."

"Something in the Water" describes being half asleep on the wheel of life.Underneath pristine surfaces, a vacancy exists. The song goes on to explore how people bury their feelings and pain, hydrating themselves with external band-aids. Although it is up to the listener to interpret, "Something in the Water" could be a commentary on society's aimless tendencies.

There is no pegging Splendid Engine into a genre. This is not paint-by-the-numbers music. Splendid Engine creates music that lives at the intersection of poetry and creative song-writing. Dreamy atmospheric elements along with melodic, light rock instrumentation and subtle vocals, allow each song to unfold. Keeping your ears locked in with a nostalgic sound coupled with fresh, digital elements, Splendid Engine is an artist who will captivate you.

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