Skypark – NoAmbition
April 13, 2006
What It Sounds Like: A throwback to the 90s days of no frills, ready for the radio, indie/modern rock ‘n’ roll.
Skypark has always been an enigma to me. They never got the attention that they deserved over the course of their three record career, though they released three of the most unique, but still instantly recognizable, sounding albums of their time. From Word records releasing the duo of nineteen-ninety-eight’s noisier and grungier Am I Pretty to the pop/rock of two-thousands’ Overbluecity, these guys refused to create either album in a way that would make it sound close to the same for its total running time. The under-the-radar, independent release of two-thousand-and-six’s NoAmbition is the third (and sadly, more than likely the last) installment of tunes that these dudes have given us, and it amazingly comes in as their strongest record of their career.
Forget being simply the best Skypark record. This record is a hands-down killer in its own right.
The diversity that this band can pull off on a record, without it sounding like a crumpled mess, is astounding. Would-be singles like Wish and Angeline play like harmony-filled anthems right from a page out of the indie-meets-alternative playbook (don’t take that negative), while The Year Of No Ambition and the garage rock of the Vines-inspired Sex Is A Weapon take a much grungier approach. Plus, why not throw some almost 70s-psych meets mellow indie bluesy rock on Hangin’ On? Or some indie-garage-pop with Ocean Of Secrets? Man, it’s good. This record sounds so organic; it’s anything but overproduced, and that seriously is a selling point here that could be completely overlooked. It’s the key that you “can’t put your finger on.” You can tell when a band records in a room without all the overly technical bells and whistles that doom so many records and I, for one, think it’s a fantastic choice.
Somehow…through all of this: it just fits. Nothing sounds out of place and it flows like a well-oiled machine.
Mash all these styles up with some left-of-the-center lyrics about trying to get out of the nine-to-five and all the interesting occurrences that may come along with it south of the boarder (All the girls in Mexico are pretty / The locals there eat lobster everyday / No one goes to work at seven-thirty in the morning / We should go to Mexico and stay) or trying to prevent your sister from falling in with the wrong type of dude (Sister loves a speed freak / She thinks that he’s clean / He’s in love with someone else / Methamphetamine) – and you’ve just got a solid winner on your hands. Nothing about this record is stereotypical, though the casual listener wouldn’t have to put forth any effort to get into it. Skypark have hit that hard-to-find sweet spot with this one, and a follow up record would certainly be warranted.
The personal interpretation of the controversial, epic, and largely acoustic Bibleville is worth every second as the record’s eight minute closer. A serenade to the murky bowels of the CCM industry, it brings the devil out into the sunlight. I’m through and through a Christian man who loves the Lord, sins on a daily basis, and then tries to try a little harder the next day to live my life in an inspiring manner. What happens when we stop trying and get complacent? What happens when we start to be self-serving? We end up in Bibleville. You want to run away from there as quickly as you can, though those lights certainly can shine pretty bright. We sadly live in a world where that preacher isn’t always representing what he should be, and that man in the suit who’s asking you to sign your name on a dotted line to sing at the Dove awards isn’t always what he seems to be either. How can we differentiate through all these various intentions?
The first time I ever heard of the KISS principle, it was from a manager at Rainforest Cafe at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville where I worked for a time.
KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
To that I say, keep it simple, and stay with true to one thing, and one thing only..
The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
Throw away the rest.
Skypark have killed it. They tackle some tough stuff. They keep it quirky. They keep it catchy and never play the same sounding song twice. They’re introspective and wide-eyed.
Don’t miss this. It’s a must-have. I only recommend two songs, but goodness reader – listen to ’em all.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Angeline / All The Girls In Mexico