A vocal that has the kind of theatrical entrance one would expect to hear in a Broadway show isn’t exactly one that I normally think about hearing when I pop a fresh rock record on the stereo. Thus, when I encounter one with the kind of feeling that The Make uses as the centerpiece for songs like “Someone to Talk To” off of The Make Up Sessions, it sticks in my memory for a long time to come.
“Someone to Talk To” has a lead vocal that soars toward the heavens like it’s all that would make a difference in the universe at this specific moment in time. It reaches through the speakers with its poetic warmth and, rather than assaulting us with a giant groove or monolithic guitar riff, joins us with the plush tonal joys of the piano keys, dancing in the backdrop to a bittersweet tempo. The Make Up Sessions has some action right off the top in “Hold On” that lives true to the hard-edged ‘80s rock roots fans of blue-collar musicianship have come to love through the years, but overall I think there’s a little more heart in this record than the status quo ever would have called for.
“Hold On” has the most forward lyrical structure of any track here, but it doesn’t have the most elaborate set of harmonies – that title belongs to “Jones Street,” which is supported by a music video already out everywhere this summer season. “Jones Street” thrusts and sways about with a heavy load on the backend, and as indulgent a mix as it’s sporting, I don’t see it as being all that excessive next to “Try a Little Harder.” You can travel a ways off of the beaten path if you’ve got the moxie, the melodicism, and the might in your voice to say something independent from what the dominant acts in your scene are, and The Make is the sort of group that doesn’t just have what their contemporaries have been looking for; they’ve raised the bar for themselves in the process of getting to this quintessential sound they’ve got in The Make Up Sessions.
Whether it be the immersive rock of “Wasted Time” or the more intricately wound “Another Lifetime,” The Make’s latest could well be their scene’s greatest this autumn, and for reasons that often don’t apply when making an album. For one, there’s a meatiness of the storytelling in this record that made me feel like the content itself – and the creation thereof – represented a lot of catharsis for this group, especially coming out of what has been one of the tensest and most unpredictable times in the history of our modern industry.
They don’t leave anything out or hold back from each other in the least in this tracklist but instead, do what they can to vent (and vent harder than most anyone around them has been willing to this year). Thiers is a good example for rock and, to a larger extent, all of us who made it through this rather disappointing recent era for the genre.