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Invox

Invoxication (2008)

3.0

May 12, 2008

Tuning / Blend 3.3
Energy / Intensity 3.0
Innovation / Creativity 3.3
Soloists 3.7
Sound / Production 2.7
Repeat Listenability 2.7
Tracks
1 Seasons of Love 3.3
2 Unlit Candle 3.7
3 Love, Give Me Your Strength 3.0

Recorded 2007
Total time: 12:51, 3 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Seasons of Love 3
2 Unlit Candle 4
3 Love, Give Me Your Strength 3

Invox's debut EP, Invoxication, features a huge green martini on its cover. For me, the green apple martini serves as a symbol of middle-aging Gen-X pseudo-hipsterness. As such, it's also a great representation of Invoxication's sound.

Invox has a pleasant, punchy pop sound. If hard-hitting, soul-wrenching music if your thing, you probably won't be satisfied. There's a distinct musical theater twinge to Invox's sound, from the spryly articulated diction and overly nasal soloists to the Disney-wash sound of the block. (The track from Rent is also a dead giveaway in the "tending toward musical theater" category.) While this type of sound isn't my preference, they do execute well. I was especially surprised to learn the size of the group (about thirteen singers per their website). The blend sounds like six singers. While I'm more apt to believe this a testament to studio enhancement rather than excellent uniformity of sound, it is nonetheless impressive.

Overall, it is difficult to gauge Invox by the brief twelve minutes of Invoxication. The original track, Unlit Candle, shows proficient songwriting that has potential to develop into really inspiring stuff. Arrangements are competent but not amazing. Soloists are appropriate but sound a bit too glossy for my taste. Invox performs the material well, but all three songs are extremely similar sounding.

Invoxication serves its purpose as an EP well. It is only a teaser and is of sufficient quality that I'm interested in hearing what the group is capable of on a full-length release. I especially like the inclusion of original songwriting and want to hear more. Until then, Invoxication will have to suffice.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 Seasons of Love 3
2 Unlit Candle 3
3 Love, Give Me Your Strength 3

Since this EP falls short of greatness, you should probably wait to buy InVox's first full-length release.

InVox has some impressive players in their roster, and this is why I feel their next album will be worth purchasing. The coed members of InVox are alums from Loyolacappella, the University of Illinois' No Strings Attached, Clemson's TakeNote, and other popular groups. And a male member of InVox proclaims on the group's website that " ... he has accomplished what he believes to be an a cappella career hat trick, having spent time singing with a coed group, an all-male group, and an all-female group." Clearly, these are seasoned a cappella singers.

But Invoxication is an uninteresting listen. From the get-go, we hear sterile production that's heavy on the auto-tuning and overproduced drums, with little warmth or character present. Seasons of Love has good soloists and pretty backing vocals, but there's nothing unique about this over-covered tune. Unlit Candle is a promising R&B original, but fails to take off and feels tired by the end. Love, Give Me Your Strength is a pleasant enough medley of Wordplay by Jason Mraz and Chariot by Gavin DeGraw, but goes a few minutes too long. Including a fresh fourth song instead of a lengthy pop piece would have been welcome.

Yet there are strong voices and memorable deliveries on Invoxication. With the right repertoire and more thoughtful mixing, InVox should really shine in Chicago's a cappella scene.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 2
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 Seasons of Love 4
2 Unlit Candle 4
3 Love, Give Me Your Strength 3

Invox has released a three-song EP called Invoxication. It is compressed to hell and too damn loud. The leads are obscured in the mix, all three songs are too artificially tuned and sterile, and all the mixes are treble heavy.

Seasons of Love is the worst offender of the harsh tuning and tinny mixing. (The latter is especially prevalent in the percussion.) Luckily, Jennifer Walus shows up to rescue us from the staid first half of the song. She takes the song where it needs to go, though the backing block has trouble keeping up with her emotion and energy.

Unlit Candle is the strongest of the three. The nice 6/8 sway and the bridge sell the song quite well. Two of the transitions — going into the verse from the intro, and the end of the bridge — stuck out to me as being a little clunky but not enough to outweigh my overall enjoyment of the track.

The DeGraw/Mraz arrangement is one of the more gracefully executed mash-ups I have heard, though the novelty of mixing two songs together doesn't justify the length (at six minutes). The leads are great, but again the backing block just gets in the way. It is very difficult to lend any energy to the music singing "bah nah" and "doo", and when those lame syllables, occasionally swapped out for echoed lyrics, are all that's audible because of the compression, the result is a frustrating listen.

On a full Invox album, I'd like to hear more originals like Unlit Candle and better mixing.

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