The Awkward Stage Slimming Mirrors, Flattering Lights

The Awkward Stage Slimming Mirrors, Flattering Lights
Where Vancouver, BC’s the Awkward Stage were all primary singer-songwriter Shane Nelken on their pop-tacular debut, this sophomore effort sees Nelken with a proper band and, interestingly, a more muscular musical take on his humorous ruminations. Some songs really connect and showcase Nelken’s innate pop sensibility, while others just come across as bland. It starts out promising, as "The Sun Goes Down On Girlsville” is one of the strongest, and best, Awkward Stage songs to date. A little muted trumpet heralds echoed, layered guitar that, at its climax, could easily fill a stadium in its scope. Actually, over the entire album, Nelken seems to have come out of his shell, as seen on "Anime Eyes,” with its beefy guitar and drums propelling its catchy chorus. The most effective part comes in the middle where Nelken reverts to his simple, charming songwriting on the perfect "I Hurt the Ones That Love Me.” With just a pining delivery and simple acoustic guitar, it’s all one really needs. Indeed, this is also the case with equally good "We Dreamt of Houses.” Nelken is widening his creative scope but he connects when he keeps things close to his heart. (Mint)