In anticipation of writing this review I checked out Kyley Styles’s Facebook page and was immediately struck by the line accompanying his profile pic: “Life is tough. Write a song.” What struck me upon seeing this is the context it gives the EP’s lyrics which focus primarily on the perils of human relationships. That isn’t to say that they are dry, boring or the sort of navel-gazing drivel we get from some indie/alt acts – Styles presents his view of the world with tongue firmly planted in cheek but still manages to touch the heart.
The EP gets off to a kick-ass start with the infectious “Eye of the Beholder”, a groovy hook-laden tune that reminds me of little-known Canadian indie act Barstool Prophets, who had some brief success in the mid-90’s with the song, “Paranoia”. Stylistically (bad pun intended) these two tunes are of a kind and that is definitely a compliment. In fact, this track would have been my choice for release to radio, which is not to say that “Halo”, the track that was released to radio, is unworthy. It’s simply true for me that “Beholder” is a whole body groove out, head-banging, air-guitar, sing-along endorphin rush. That, my friends, is worth the price of admission, especially at $4.99 from iTunes!
The balance of the EP is equally satisfying in different ways, although the tone softens somewhat on tracks 2, 3 and 5. Upon first listen I have to admit to being a little confused about what genre Styles fits into; however, on several repeat listens this became less and less of a concern due in large part, I believe, to the fact that Styles is the songwriter and the band all wrapped up in one: with the exception of drums on track 1 and Uncle Bill’s violin, Styles plays all the instruments on the EP himself. As a dabbler in home recording and a hack at multi-instrumentation I can tell you that is no small feat. Being the single creative force behind a project is really, really risky: when it works it can be magic but when it doesn’t…
Fortunately for Kyley Styles it works perfectly: to this ear the key weapon in the Styles arsenal is his ability to create memorable hooks. Lots of us can play a few chords, hum a melody, add a lyric and call it a song but few can weave the elements of a great song/great performance/great recording into an emotional experience that is memorable. What strikes me most about Styles’s songwriting ability is his sense of phrasing and rhythm, key elements in creating a memorable hook and it’s the hooks that, well, hook us (my editor is cringing).
The bottom line is that I love One Short of a Six Pack, and that is saying something coming from a middle-aged metal-head who doesn’t list indie/alt rock amongst his top 3 genres. Head on over to iTunes and invest $4.99 in some endorphin-firing rock ‘n’ roll. You’ll be glad you did.
p.s. Once you buy the EP make sure you head over to the Kyley Styles website to download the accompanying .pdf EP booklet. Do that Here.