Critical Voices: Sinkane, Mean Love

September 4, 2014


Sinkane’s second LP release, Mean Love, is a jungle of dense, atmospheric instrumentals and smooth vocals. Sinkane, the solo project of Ahmed Gallab of Caribou and of Montreal, draws influences from synthpop to funk to shoegaze, with jazzy rhythm and world percussion thrown in. This thick soup of influences is tempered with lyrical simplicity that keeps the music lush without being overwhelming, making the album a perfect match for a swampy DC evening.

The opening and closing songs, “How We Be” and “Omduran,” are fast and buoyant, relying heavily on Sinkane’s world beat and big band influences. They open and close the album on an energetic note, but never wander too far from Sinkane’s laid-back pop roots that flesh out the album. The rest of Mean Love is fast-paced without being enthusiastic, the sort of tunes to nod along to, but not to dance to. 

The clarity of Gallab’s vocals and the whine of the guitar brings the thick web of instrumentals on this album down to earth. Gallab’s voice is clear and clean, and he delivers the same power and control in falsetto as he does in his lower register. Sinkane’s lyrics are simple and straightforward, and focus on love, so much that they would seem trite if they weren’t sung so earnestly.

Gallab’s voice is best displayed on the country-tinged title track, where he repeats the refrain, “You know I love you but you’re mean,” with aching sincerity, accompanied by a slide guitar that sings as earnestly as he does. The sentiment “Mean Love” delivers is enduring—a perfect fit for an album that effortlessly blends retro influences with the cutting edge of alternative pop.

 Voice’s Choices:  “Mean Love,” “Omdurman”


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