Simpático - Club Life EP

matinée 044  /  March 2003
Simpático - Club Life EP
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Simpático - Club Life EP

matinée 044  /  March 2003

Five of the strongest songs to date from jet-setting Australian Jason Sweeney and the first new Simpático material since the acclaimed "Difference Between Alone & Lonely" album last year. Since then, Simpático has played numerous dates throughout the US and Australia and assembled an abundant arsenal of positive press including comparisons to Magnetic Fields, Red House Painters, The Wake, Famous Boyfriend, and Trembling Blue Stars. The most upbeat song penned by Jason since the days of Sweet William, "Club Life" boasts a hypnotic rhythm track that makes it thoroughly modern and a potential dancefloor filler if we lived in a more tolerable universe. The balance of the EP further hones the characteristic Simpático recipe of atmospheric pop blending layered, swirling guitars with keyboards, heaps of reverb, exceptional songwriting and warm, emotional vocals.

  1. Club Life
  2. Inseparable
  3. Garden Greene
  4. First & Last Warning
  5. Self-conscious


Jason Sweeney: is there anything he can't do? Despite a steady release schedule that most artists would gasp at (two albums a year on average, plus a handful of singles, compilation tracks and the odd online streaming art project), it has to be said that Sweeney has yet to make a bad record: last year's full-length Simpático release, 'The Difference Between Alone & Lonely', was one of my top five Australian releases (and his other projects, Other People's Children and Pretty Boy Crossover, weren't far behind), so it was with some enthusiasm that I put on 'Club Life'. I wasn't disappointed. Sweeney might have put the verse/chorus/bridge songcraft of his early Millards/Sweet William days behind him, but Club Life is still the closest to a "single" that he's ever released - it burbles along on restrained keyboards, threatening to burst into a huge Dubstar chorus that never comes, perfectly matching the unresolved lyric. Then there's the sweeping keys of the closing Self-conscious, which has a low-key Pet Shop Boys vibe, matching the similarly resigned Inseperable. Sweeney's lyrics have always been memorable, but he's hit a new plataeu here: "You're a gay cliche if there ever was one," he sighs on First & Last Warning, "listening to Shirley in the morning." I'm still waiting for Jason to come up with the hands-in-the-air disco classic that I know he's capable of, but in the meantime the fact that I have a new Sweeney record every couple of months is a delight that I've yet to tire of. If you've yet to become familiar with his work, 'Club Life' is the perfect introduction.   -- dB Magazine
Another peerless release from Santa Barbara’s finest label comes courtesy of Australia’s Simpatico and proving to be their most accomplished batch of songs yet. Simpatico is the musical alter ego of Jason Sweeney and these five tracks represent the first recorded fruits since last years ‘Difference between alone and lonely’ album. Opening to swathes of electronic grandeur on the title track ‘Club Life’ with its driving dynamic which had me recalling Its Immaterial from the mid 80’s switching emotionally into full reverse for the longing hurt of the sensitively challenging ‘Inseparable’ which in terms of moods isn’t a million miles away from Human League’s ‘Louise’. Sweeney peddles an intimate dusty path, tear filled tales half spoken are honed to sweetly digestible 80’s synth back drops themselves locked onto skipping rhythms, the overall effect inherently chilly and distant but providing brief glimpses of upbeat euphoria. If anything this EP gets better the further in you get to explore, it’s melodies and soft intertwining textures implicitly invite you to sit back and float away as the seemingly simplistic arrangements wash over, reference points, if indeed it counts, could arguably cite the more serene moments of Electronic and Pet Shop Boys, after all this is neatly executed thoughtful pop. Best cut of the EP is ‘Garden Greene’, all at once the flurries of strummed chords and electronic orchestrations sting the listener in their tracks, captivating with its faraway yearning, it’s like imagining a super group made up of New Order and the Cure auditioning for a release on Sarah, literally heart stopping stuff. Then there’s the wonderfully fluffy ‘First and Last Warning’ with it’s ricocheting spacey ceramics, tenderised laid back groove and hypnotically swirling melodies, pretty much a similar sentiment to J Xaverre and the current crop of folk-tronic. Lush pop never sounded so lonely.   --Losing Today
Speaking of Cody, and of those Field Mice circa ‘Missing The Moon’, as I was just a moment ago, there’s not a little of that particular sound in the new five track ‘Club Life’ EP on Matinée by Simpático. This is bittersweet technoPop with beats and bleeps that make you move, topped off by guitar lines and seeping synth strings that pirouette in cornflower skies. Lovely.   --Tangents
Jason Sweeney is a ridiculously prolific Australian artist who continually produces classy pop songs at the drop of a hat. In his one-man band Simpático, he continues his trademark sound of intelligent electro-pop songs, and his latest EP, Club Life, is no exception. His songs are interesting in the respect that he does not stick to the traditional “verse, chorus, verse” song structure. Instead, his songs are little intimate stories of love, heartbreak, and loneliness amidst electronic drum machines, 80s synths, and guitar. The first track sounds very similar to The Boy is Mine EP released on Gifted Records. Simpático’s danceable songs are club worthy - almost. Ironically, the Club Life EP probably would not be on a club’s playlist because the music is too literate for most clubs. The major failing of why these songs could not make it in the dance club is not the actual music itself but rather in the lyrics. The lyrics are much too literate and sensitive to belong in the oft-repetitive, trite lyrics present in most of the dance music played at clubs. On a casual listen, this EP sounds like fluffy electro-pop music. Instead of being incredibly poppy and upbeat, the music is rather drawn out into a mellow state, droning the listener to a happy state of relaxation. Sweeney has the perfect 80s voice in my opinion. If Simpático’s music was released in the 1980s, he could have easily been popular and perhaps fit in with prominent bands like Erasure and New Order because his music and voice fall in the same vein. On a closer listen, the sheer amount of care Sweeney takes in crafting his lyrics is impressive. The title track is a great song, with its skittery electronic drum beats and organy keyboard riffs telling the story about the futileness of the protagonist trying to relive the past by taking his ex-boyfriend to the club they first met. He tries to win him back, but his ex lover retorts “We’re achieving nothing by going back / It’s a waste of time, a waste of time.” The other tracks follow the same suit, documenting the sadness of one-sided love and the inability to make the object of affection love one back. The music swells and crescendos right before he realizes that his fantasy will never come to fruition. Simpático’s music has real heart and warmth compared to the sterile superficial pop songs that belong in clubs because of the sincerity of Sweeney’s emotions. One note about the booklet: all the lyrics for the songs are printed together into a block paragraph. The lyrics flow seamlessly into one another, much like the music itself. The layout reminds me of Belle and Sebastian albums because of the small fictional stories written by Stuart Murdoch are printed on the sleeve. Sweeney’s lyrics printed on the page look like that, except his narratives are the lyrics that are culled from real life experience, rather than fiction. This little EP will probably be overlooked by fans of more popular electro-pop bands (ahem, Postal Service), but this band definitely deserves a wider audience.   --Delusions of Adequacy
On Simpático's latest EP club life is less about glitz and glamour than about human beings and the way they break each other's hearts for the sake of love. On the title track, the narrator goes to a club not for fun but try to come to terms with a confusing and failing relationship, thinking if they return to where they met they can better sort their feelings out. But the effort's futile ("he's ungrateful and so messed up and condescending"), and he goes away sad. Lies and disguises are as much a part of love as longing and infatuation on Club Life's 5 songs. If you're seeking shake-the-foundations dance music, you might be in the wrong place; this is sensitive, introspective pop music. Yet Jason Sweeney (who is Simpático) does throw some beats and synth under his gentle guitar-pop. They mostly stay underneath, complementing the songs without taking over. Yet there is one exhilarating moment at the end of the second song ("Insepearable") where they push through the sadness and break out, showering the song with glimmering electronics. It's a beautiful moment of release, where you can imagine a dance floor filled with the jilted and the lonely, swaying together with momentary smiles.   --Erasing Clouds
Simpático is Jason Sweeney, one-man new-wave pop band--or at least he is right. Club Life is a fun little collection of down-and-out yet upbeat new-wavey pop, and I'm not one to say no to it! As the title implies, these songs have a bit more of a dance beat to them, but that's okay, because they're smart, literate, and just as good as you'd expect to come from the wonderful folk at Matinée! Personally, I'm fond of "First & Last Warning" and the clubland-oriented Pet Shop Boys-ish "Self-Conscious," but, really, all of these songs are choice! Sweeney has covered Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" (which is a major point- scorer in my book), and though that's not on here, it's still a great little number, worth seeking out. A fun record, sure to remind you of your late-80s ways. Single Of The Week.   --Mundane Sounds
Sweet is a word rarely described to describe pop records by pop writers. I think a lot of people either like to give off a hard, cynical image or like to appear impeccably cool (perhaps, these people are hard, cynical and impeccably cool? Maybe it’s just me that doesn’t think he is, never mind). But anyway, ‘Sweet’ is the best way that I can describe most of the records on the Matinée label, and those performed by Jason Sweeney as Simpático in particular. Matinée means to me, lovely people making lovely records. I’ve been a fan of Simpático since the debut 'Postal Museum EP' back in 2001,but this is probably his best record yet. The title track is magical ; Jason’s finest vocal yet over a delicate synth backing, with a little guitar in there as well. It sounds, at first, sort of upbeat and poppy (and, of course, you have this title 'Club Life' which subconsciously tells you it MUST be a dance track) but in fact, after about 3 plays I realised it’s very melancholic. The lyrics finds Jason going back to where he first met his boyfriend and trying to recapture the magic. The canny pop setting with a hint of melancholy that eventually overwhelms the entire track thus could not be more perfectly in line with the theme. Then comes 'Inseparable' which is even better. The opening lines of guitar remind me a lot of Yorkshire’s The Spanish Amanda (by the way, whatever happened to them?), and the opening lyrics are brilliant. “Whether you’ve got love or hatred in your life, someone will say, “Don’t go changing, God you’re perfect”, the sweetest lies you’ve ever heard”. I love it when a pop song can sum up real life so cleverly, but so simply. It’s the reason we all listen to pop music really, because it can speak to us all . It took a while for me to get to track three ('Garden Greene'), because I kept skipping back to the first two over and over (whilst sitting on the late night train on my own, which is my absolute favourite place in the world to listen to music, and I travel like that infrequently enough for it to be a rare treat). When I finally got to it I was simply in awe. It’ has perhaps the weakest melody on the CD but it also uses a combination of jangly guitars and chiming keyboards that I find spellbinding. 'First and Last Warning' is the most guitar based, and has more of a lo-fi vibe than the others, but is also quite catchy. Finally, we have 'Self Conscious'”, which I think is superb. He uses the lyrics to moan at somebody who’s self-consciously unsure around him, who won’t quite loosen up in private, but then tries to be hyper cool in public. I think we can all sympathise with that. Jason even pulls off a pretty convincing impression of a menacingly self-conscious R’n’B/rap type dude on this track (though he still as indiepop as indiepop, really). I can’t , therefore, decide if it’s ironic or unintentional. Sounds cool, though. Before I got this record, I was a little worried. His 'The Difference Between Alone and Lonely' album was so fantastic that I wanted something just as good. Yet I was faced with the dilemma of not knowing what “just as good” would mean. I didn’t want him to stay in the same place musically, because Jason is a person whom I feel pushes the indiepop scene a long way forward with each release. I didn’t know though if another style would grab me in the same way. Thank God for this, then. The 'Club Life' extends further Jason’s music, it’s his most complex effort yet, but also keeps him travelling in the direction that’s so close to my heart. And it’s very sweet.   --Pennyblack Magazine
This is Jason Sweeney formerly of Sweet William and Other People’s Children and there’s not much difference in the bands (at least between this and Sweet William). Jason still purrs his warm vocals and writes hypnotic guitar lines (a la Trembling Blue Stars) and the music is backed by soothing keyboards and a drum machine. These songs are all gentle and lovely. My fave is the dreamy “Garden Greene” but you’ll have a hard time not liking any of these songs.   --Dagger