Henri Tyler is an alternative artist from Philadelphia. Honestly, his new EP Strings didn’t grab me much at first. I was listening to the opening track “Pulling Strings” and thinking to myself, “okay, sure, a proficient guitarist who’s pretty well produced, if a little pitchy, I know the way this is going to go.” Boy, I am glad I listened all the way through the song. Suddenly, at a little over the halfway mark, we launch into a really interesting, almost Weezer-like sing-a-long that sucked me right in. I was riveted. Sure, the rest of the song wasn’t anything crazy, neither was this section, either, really, but something about it grabbed me and made me feel some sort of emotion.
“The Field” blazes in with some very blues and surf-inspired electric guitar, breaking open into some muted guitar and vocals. The song is overall really fun; not exactly my cup of tea, musically, and the vocals are a little out of key, but people that like this kind of fun, poppy rock will fall in love with Tyler at this point. I do also have to point out that when Tyler’s vocals are double-tracked at the very end of the song, he sounds great. That might be something to stick with; if it works for Elliott Smith, John Lennon, and Dave Grohl alike, there’s got to be something to it, right?
“Disconnect” is another fun pop song; I could see people pumping themselves up dancing and singing along with this on their way to school or work. It’s simple, like much of the EP, but that’s where the effectiveness lies. It may not be original, but Tyler definitely knows how to lean into that and really jam out and ooze fun. “Subway Thoughts” is maybe my favorite song on the project. Its inclusion of piano was beautiful, it was wonderfully poppy, and came with a healthy dose of ridiculousness that made everything go down well. The classic alt-rock soft-loud dynamic is there, but much more subtle than many of that structure’s predecessors. This is followed by the folky “Why Oh Why,” which has some pretty good lyrics, and (importantly) kept the fun alive. “After” is slower and a little self-serious, which feels a bit out of place, but sounds good.
Strings is a fun, poppy detour that Henri Tyler should be proud of. I’m not a massive fan of this style, but with sheer energy he was able to pull me in, so kudos to you, Henri Tyler. The instruments all sound great, the production is solid, the songwriting is consistent, and the only thing that could use some work is really Tyler’s voice on occasion. Other than this, Strings is a very solid product of some obvious hard work.
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