Musician Sinkane knows a lot about change. Born in London, he lived in Sudan for five years before finally settling in Ohio. Unsurprisingly, his music reflects his diverse upbringing. Blending a variety of music genres, from soft jazz to funk rock, Sinkane creates songs that pulse with vicarious energy. Every track is a groovy dance party, driven by the verve of his soulful voice.
His newest album, Life & Livin’ It, takes no divergences into uncharted territory, choosing to stick closely to the tried and true sound of past albums, Mean Love and MARS. And while Sinkane has explored other venues for musical expression since his first two albums (including heading the group Atomic Bomb! Band in 2014) the depth of his experiences are reflected mostly in the maturity of Life & Livin’ It, rather than its sound.
It’s an album that remains consistent due to songs that are evenly balanced and well defined. Life & Livin’ It sees Sinkane at his prime, masterfully constructing a sound that he had been experimenting with since 2012.
Opening track, “Deadweight,” perfectly showcases this connectivity. The muffled acoustic harmonies and level vocals crescendo into passionate electric guitar solos and jagged exclamations of sound, putting “Deadweight” within a series of different scopes; it starts in the background of a quiet coffee shop and ends in the front row of an indie rock music festival. The universal factor that ties it all together is Sinkane’s voice, emerging from the jumble with confidence. Its unbroken level of self-assuredness roots the song and allows it to evolve with organization.
However, within the connection Sinkane has with his own music, there comes the danger of redundancy. It’s a danger that is well apparent in the album; the perfect complement to long stretches of Midwest highways, after the initial shock of the first track’s unusual sound, nothing in Life & Livin’ It comes as a surprise.
With songs “Telephone” and “Theme From Life & Livin’ It,” the constant reiterations work in the songs’ benefit. In “Telephone,” the consistent motif of rising and falling electronic sounds backed by the repeated vocals of “you must be alone / why else you calling on the phone” is an echo of early ’80s electropop, and bathes the track in bright glamor. “Theme From Life & Livin’ It” is more down to earth, trading in artificial lighting for an expressive chorus and a jazz ensemble. The recurrent elements bring this song to a full circle; an unbroken flow of radiant positivity — the uniformity in “Theme From Life & Livin’ It” comforts instead of bores.
On the other hand, tracks “Favorite Song” and “Won’t Follow” fall flat. The reiterated “won’t you play my favorite song” in “Favorite Song,” combined with minimal contributions from background melodies, stretch it out into a tired cliché. “Won’t Follow” heeds a similar pattern, with “I won’t follow / I won’t follow” playing like a broken record over an agonizingly slow beat.
Overall, Life & Livin’ It is static; there is no growth, no large-scale progression of ideas or emotions both within the album as a whole and within the individual songs. As diverse and inclusive as Sinkane’s musical range is, there is no exploration of other sounds. We stay in the same spot with Sinkane within the entirety of Life & Livin’ It, never straying once from well-defined boundaries. And while that ensures pleasing music, the album itself is weighed down.
This drawback doesn’t necessarily entail that Life & Livin’ It fails as an album. While Life & Livin' It might drag in its uniformity, every song works tirelessly toward inspiring a positive mood. Even though simple and relatively stagnant, Sinkane's music is filled with heart and soul.