Music Reviews
Need to Feel Your Love

Sheer Mag Need to Feel Your Love

(Static Shock) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Coming off a trio of EPs that gave a much-needed vibrancy to the format, Sheer Mag are now out to conquer the album format on their debut effort, Need to Feel Your Love. It’s a new challenge for the Philadelphia outfit to shoot up their profile considering they’re earned their current reputation as rock revivalists without any marketing savvy. So they did it the old-fashioned way - to perform as many garage basements as possible, and hope that each and every beer-sipping attendee would make the effort to seek them out once the beer keg ran dry.

Out of every conceivable theme, it never occurred to me that they’d shift their focus on the universal concept of love. Not that it would be the first time they’d tackle the subject - it was implicitly found with much transparency on tracks like Worth the Tears and Hard Lovin’, but to openly acknowledge it without the slightest trace of wit seems like an uninspired choice for a band that writes songs with detailed precision. Fortunately, they do their hometown justice on the Philly-soul inspired track, where tough front woman Tina Halladay openly expresses the tenderness of young love as Kyle Seely’s sumptuously staggered guitar lines mark every note she hits.

The title track’s graceful bounce is just one of the musical stylings found on Need to Feel Your Love, which takes on many facets of classic rock without ever undermining its expansive source material. Sheer Mag do have a strong reverence to the guitar, and as it is with younger musicians who take on rock history with a complete disregard to stringent chronology, they arrange these tracks with an instinctual, gut-level clamor. As it progresses, it takes many different forms: the twin-guitar maelstrom of Thin Lizzy (Just Can’t Get Enough), the swampy, Southern-tinged blues of Allman Brothers (Suffer Me), and even the compact, yet ornate velocity of Judas Priest (Turn It Up).

Aside from taking on different elements, the stark immediacy of power pop is what stimulates their every moment. And they do find surprising ways to enliven the format, even if their version of it tends to err on hard rock affectations rather than drawing their attention on more gleaming melodies. One of their most accomplished tracks here, Expect the Bayonet, replicates the flanged guitars of Big Star but with a faster tempo, always opting to give fuel to the swagger and with air-tight efficiency. The brisk pace of Can’t Play it Cool is another scorcher that fits the Chilton/Bell template, though cleverly turned inside out by performing major scales pulled out of the Randy Rhoads playbook.

Sheer Mag’s heady mixture of influences shouldn’t work. And yet, their tireless curiosity and genuine affection for rock song forms is what separates Need to Feel Your Love from sounding like a conventional tribute. Under lesser hands, their clever way of piecing together a wild amalgamation of former perspectives would quickly sink and drown. But Sheer Mag tackle the album full-length with a simple message, and chock-full of power chords, one that also traces back to the straightforward intentions of early rock n’ roll but with soulful brio. It raises the stakes for a band who, up to this point, had commended the eminent value of brevity.