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The Acaphiliacs

Florida State University

Overcome (2016)

4.0

December 13, 2016

Tuning / Blend 4.0
Energy / Intensity 4.3
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 4.0
Sound / Production 4.3
Repeat Listenability 3.7
Tracks
1 Legendary Lovers 4.3
2 Chandelier 4.7
3 Or 3.7
4 I Got a Boy 4.3
5 Dancing with the Devil 4.0
6 Never Let Me Go 4.0
7 Oh My My 3.7
8 Dance With Me Tonight 3.7
9 Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree 3.0
10 What You Don't Do 4.7
11 Nightingale 4.3

Recorded 2015 – 2016
Total time: 34:38, 11 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 5
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Legendary Lovers 4
2 Chandelier 5
3 Or 4
4 I Got a Boy 5
5 Dancing with the Devil 5
6 Never Let Me Go 4
7 Oh My My 4
8 Dance With Me Tonight 3
9 Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree 3
10 What You Don't Do 5
11 Nightingale 5

One of my all-time favorite Will Smith movies is Bad Boys. In the pivotal ending scene after Will Smith and Martin Lawrence subdue the bad guy, Smith turns to Lawrence and states: "Now that's how you [sic] supposed to drive. From now on, that's how you drive." After listening to Overcome by FSU's Acaphiliacs, I am altering Smith's quote to apply to this album ..."That's how you're supposed to sing; from now on this is how you sing."

In case you're not grasping the not so subtle hints, Overcome is a beast of an album.

The Acaphiliacs make a lot of smart, innovative, and personalized choices to help this album stand out. For starters, there are two, count 'em two, non-English songs on the album.

Or has a unique South-Asian inspired feel that demonstrates how a good soloist should steer the course of a track. The lead is backed by the perfect support system, which does a phenomenal job of painting a musical landscape with their voices. There are moments when you can really visualize the music.

While I really enjoy Or, I love I Got a Boy. The K-pop song features various vocal effects such as synths and dubstep elements taking the energy level off the charts. What makes the whole experience enjoyable is that the Acaphiliacs feed off of each other very well, through intensity and moments of back and forth singing. For the listener, it's a fun ride to take with the group.

The Acaphiliacs have also included some more well-known hits. The group's rendition of Chandelier is easily my new favorite version of this song as it boasts immense creativity, while still managing to stay true to the original. The lead's voice can be a bit operatic at times with the heavy vibrato, but outside of this she has some dynamite pipes.

What You Don't Do is simply fluid with big moment after big moment. The song is colorful and bright with elements of jazz and gospel, and there is more than one instance where the group really goes to church. Dancing with the Devil has a level of complexity to its pop-rock nature that's brilliant and hard-hitting. And Nightingale is perhaps one of the most well-executed songs I've ever heard when you pay attention to the group's tone, delivery, and feel as they sing.

Overcome comes so close to checking off everything on the list of a great album. But in the end, it always comes down to consistency. There are moments in tracks where the balance feels off, where leads are getting drowned out. Other times, songs simply aren't on the same level as others. This is typical when your good songs are REALLY good.

With that said, I still have to mimic my opening statement as a testament to how good Overcome is ... other a cappella groups, "From now on, this is how you sing."


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 4
Tracks
1 Legendary Lovers 5
2 Chandelier 4
3 Or 4
4 I Got a Boy 5
5 Dancing with the Devil 4
6 Never Let Me Go 4
7 Oh My My 4
8 Dance With Me Tonight 4
9 Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree 3
10 What You Don't Do 5
11 Nightingale 4

Contemporary with an international twist, the Acaphiliacs bring a passionate feeling to their album, marrying a rich layered sound with drive. The remarkable consistency throughout this entire album is exemplary. There's a great history of recorded a cappella that has come out of Florida State University; the Acaphiliacs can proudly say that they have continued that legacy with this album.

Jacob Tourjeman arranged every song on this album (with one assist) and it is clear that he has a strong editorial voice. What I appreciate most is the variety of music represented — with two foreign-language tracks and a true mix of genres, the Acaphiliacs show their range and their focus at the same time. Tourjeman is clearly a talent and knows how to draw out the strengths of the singers on the album.

If you want to hear what true sung jubilation sounds like, listen to I Got a Boy. The energy is like a straight-to-the-gut shot, and it's easy to imagine what a live performance would look like. The sugar-powered K-Pop beats of Girls' Generation translated seamlessly to a cappella.

Less exciting is the overdramatized slowed opening for Chandelier, which proceeds at a snail's pace. Though the recording is certainly intense, it treads into overblown angstappella territory rather quickly. Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree relies on the fake aged gimmick of throwing LP static onto a track, which I could do without. It seems foolish to mask this beautifully-sung girl group style track. What You Don't Do, which comes right after, washes that gimmick right away, though — the bright and rich choruses are truly stunning.

The Acaphiliacs show on this album that they have great talent and a focused perspective. I hope future albums will retain this focus.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Legendary Lovers 4
2 Chandelier 5
3 Or 3
4 I Got a Boy 3
5 Dancing with the Devil 3
6 Never Let Me Go 4
7 Oh My My 3
8 Dance With Me Tonight 4
9 Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree 3
10 What You Don't Do 4
11 Nightingale 4

While listening to Overcome from The Acaphiliacs, I find myself at times sinking into my seat and simply enjoying the listening experience. However, there are a few instances where I have to wonder what went into certain creative decisions. As a whole, Overcome is an entertaining album with memorable highs that will keep your ears happy.

I want to acknowledge Jacob Tourjeman first of all, who commanded the arrangements on the album. They are elegant and intricate the whole way through while showcasing the talents of all of the members. Getting even one or two arrangements onto an album is a big accomplishment, so being responsible for every one earns high praise. My two favorite arrangements on the album are Chandelier and What You Don't Do, and if you listen to nothing else, make sure you seek out those two.

Not only are the arrangements great on Chandelier and What You Don't Do, Amelia Marler and Erin Satterwhite, respectively, bring the house down on their solos. Chandelier takes on a new feeling with soaring vocals and cascading backgrounds that I listened to again and again for the ear candy. The fluidity of What You Don't Do gave me chills the first time.

Some of the lesser parts of the album come from how certain songs fit into the overall arc and flow. While there does not necessarily have to be a story, the ideal album flows smoothly the whole way through. I Got a Boy stands out in the album as a fun song with high of energy from start to finish, but feels out of place both in style and as a part of the whole. The heavy electronic feel threw me off compared to what came before and after and separated itself from the listening experience too much.

Overcome is a solid album from an entertaining and dynamic group. I'm already looking forward to hearing what the group brings next.

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