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The Tone Rangers

We Think You Love Us (But We've Been Wrong Before) (2007)

3.3

January 26, 2008

Tuning / Blend 3.7
Energy / Intensity 4.0
Innovation / Creativity 3.3
Soloists 3.3
Sound / Production 3.7
Repeat Listenability 3.0
Tracks
1 I Think I Love You 3.0
2 Find the Cost of Freedom/Southern Cross 3.3
3 I Feel Fine 3.0
4 Ariel 3.7
5 Brown-Eyed Girl 2.7
6 Unchained Melody 2.0
7 Sweet Talkin' Woman 3.7
8 Rock the Boat 3.3
9 Down by the Salley Gardens 3.0
10 Helen 3.7
11 Viva Las Vegas 2.3
12 Wild Thing 3.0
13 I Need You 3.7

Recorded 2006 – 2007
Total time: 44:25, 13 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 2
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 I Think I Love You 4
2 Find the Cost of Freedom/Southern Cross 3
3 I Feel Fine 3
4 Ariel 4
5 Brown-Eyed Girl 2
6 Unchained Melody 3
7 Sweet Talkin' Woman 4
8 Rock the Boat 3
9 Down by the Salley Gardens 3
10 Helen 4
11 Viva Las Vegas 2
12 Wild Thing 3
13 I Need You 4

Dear Tone Rangers,

I got your package which said that you think you love me. Wow! Certainly, I am flattered, but … I don't quite know how to say this … I'm not sure if I feel the same way. Tone Rangers, you're nice guys and we've had fun these last few weeks, but I just don't think I am ready to make the sort of commitment. Let me try to explain.

It's not that there's anything blatantly wrong with you. Your voices are sweet and you sing pretty well. You also have a nice blend. But I'm a special boy, and I just don't think you have what it takes to be my one and only. Your tuning is good most of the time, but occasionally it goes a little astray. Can you imagine how embarrassed I would be if that happened when I was out in public with you? Also, sometimes you're a little sloppy with your cadences, just not ending together.

There's an even bigger problem, though: you're just a little too staid for me. You seem like you are having a great time, and that kind of energy is always infectious. But your repertoire is a little outdated, and many of your arrangements could have come out of my grandfather's closet. Doo-doo-doo and la-la-la won't leave me wanting you forever! Towards the end there, I just started to get a little bored. It felt like we always did the same things over and over, and I need spice in my life to keep things fresh. You just seem a little too tame.

But we did have some fun times, didn't we? I really appreciate that you started hanging out with some of my friends, like Gabe Mann, to try and spruce your image up a little bit. The glossy sheen and booming bass of your sound is a nice blending of classic repertoire with modern recording techniques. BTW, those arrangements he wrote for you are some of your best. Sweet Talkin' Woman was pretty, well, sweet, but I Think I Love You really knocked my socks off! (Don't tell my friends I was bopping along to a Partridge Family Song, but the cross of '50s radio ham, '70s family pop/rock and that Souza march bass line really got me going.) Gil's sweet voice on I Need You was another highlight, always bringing me to my knees. I also appreciate someone with a good sense of humor, and you deliver on Helen and Ariel.

Tone Rangers, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I don't want it to be over between us. I still like you, and think you might be going in the right direction for me. But for now, let's take it slow. I'm just not ready to say the "L" word with you yet.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 I Think I Love You 2
2 Find the Cost of Freedom/Southern Cross 3
3 I Feel Fine 3
4 Ariel 3
5 Brown-Eyed Girl 3
6 Unchained Melody 1
7 Sweet Talkin' Woman 2
8 Rock the Boat 3
9 Down by the Salley Gardens 4
10 Helen 3
11 Viva Las Vegas 3
12 Wild Thing 3
13 I Need You 3

We Think You Love Us (But We've Been Wrong Before) is charming and lacking. The Tone Rangers are successful comedians but average singers in the a cappella community.

The whole group sound could be much tighter, but when blend goes awry, you'll hear tenor problems first. We Think You Love Us employs a light hand on the studio work, despite their tongue-in-cheek disclaimer: "After hundreds of recording sessions, each flub has been perfectly rendered and artistically packaged." It's a pretty pure sound for modern a cappella, making the areas of tuning and blend mission critical. It'll be tough not to bite your knuckle on Sweet Talkin' Woman. The avant-garde arrangement for I Think I Love You showcases the blend problem too, which is unfortunate as it's a unique and gutsy approach to the ol' Partridge Family. Perhaps two tenors for each arrangement instead of three-four would help? Thickening the middle would afford more lush harmonies, too.

And while you may not pound your fist in a fit of giggles, your cheeks should hurt after finishing this album. From the frank lyrics of Ariel to an encounter with The Muffin Man, there's a lot to smile over on We Think You Love Us. The guys even admit, "We are the Tone Rangers. We hope you embrace us and our music. But if not, other groups will follow the intermission." The comedy is well-delivered and enhances their style. Thus, it was surprising to hear them sing such a sweet, soulful rendition of Down by the Salley Gardens on such a wacky album. But though they're masters at getting a laugh, their over-the-top effort on Unchained Melody just went too far to be enjoyable. Even so, their comedy is refreshing and appreciated.

Overall, you'll probably like The Tone Rangers but desire more from their music. Hopefully the next go-around will offer the full package.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 4
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 I Think I Love You 3
2 Find the Cost of Freedom/Southern Cross 4
3 I Feel Fine 3
4 Ariel 4
5 Brown-Eyed Girl 3
6 Unchained Melody 2
7 Sweet Talkin' Woman 5
8 Rock the Boat 4
9 Down by the Salley Gardens 2
10 Helen 4
11 Viva Las Vegas 2
12 Wild Thing 3
13 I Need You 4

Whether or not you're a fan of the funny voices, Gregorian chants, and musical non sequiturs of We Think You Love Us (But We've Been Wrong Before), there is no denying either the vocal chops of the eight-man Tone Rangers, or how much fun they have with their music. The 2002 Harmony Sweepstakes finalists have with We Think You Love Us an extremely original, but imbalanced and inconsistent album.

Having Gabriel Mann in their corner helps the Tone Rangers's cause. Mann arranged two songs (including the superb Sweet Talkin' Woman and a take on I Think I Love You complete with Gregorian chant) and mixed and mastered the album. The mix is innovative; it plays up the tight harmonies of the Tone Rangers in unconventional and enjoyable new ways, as on the aforementioned Sweet Talkin' Woman. Pitch, not surprisingly, is only very rarely a problem. The live track, I Need You, is an exquisite exhibition of Tone Rangers's vocal abilities, as they jump in and out of various TV themes. The album sounds nicely polished (to fit with the outstanding cover design), and at its best, We Think You Love Us is the perfect balance of the group's musicality and quirkiness.

For all the Tone Rangers's vocal prowess, though, much of We Think You Love Us falls flat. Unchained Melody and Down by the Salley Gardens sound fine, but since the Tone Rangers are exponentially more captivating on quirky tracks like Ariel and Helen, the former two tracks seem out of place. The arrangement of Viva Las Vegas is extremely thin, and the half-spoken solo does nothing to exhibit the soloist's voice. The energy has been sapped out of I Feel Fine, save its excellent chorus. For every genuinely entertaining track on We Think You Love Us, there was one that sent me straight for the "next" button.

But if the laughter and applause of the live track are any indication of the effect the Tone Rangers have on audiences, then the Tone Rangers should be proud. This album may not stand out, but it's clear the group has the voices, originality, and love for its particular brand of a cappella to come up with something fantastic its next time in the studio.

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Ordering Information

To order this CD, visit the group's website, Primarily A Cappella, or A-cappella.com.

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