BY: JOEY REAMS
Sir Sly released their third studio album, The Rise & Fall of Loverboy, on April 23, 2021, via Interscope Records. The Orange County Indie trio used their time in quarantine to try and recreate the magic they made with “High,” their hit single from their 2017 sophomore album, Don’t You Worry, Honey. The single made its way up to number three on Billboard’s weekly US Alternative Airplay chart. On top of that, the single was featured in shows such as 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale, and Lucifer and on NBC’s Sunday Night Football during the 2018 season. Despite the commercial success of that song, the album didn’t receive much attention from critics. The band hopes to change that with the release of this album, which had three singles including, “Material Boy,” “Little Deaths,” and “Thx.” The band recently announced they are going on a North America tour with Lovelytheband starting in November.
Much like any relationship, the first song, “Honey,” starts slow and mysterious. If this first song indicates what the rest of the album will be like, the listener should expect various instrumentation, some autotune, and catchy choruses that quickly get stuck in their heads. The song is hopeful, and by the end, it feels exciting, like a new relationship.
The experimentation continues in the second song, “Loverboy,” which starts with a roar from a horn, and the main character is introduced. Anyone can relate to Loverboy, who opens up about his sorrows, something that the band will revisit later in the album with “Numb” and “All I Want To Do Is Cry (In The Club).” In terms of where this song falls on the relationship spectrum, it’s the opening up stage where the relationship is still new and exciting, yet exciting details are still being discovered. Towards the end of the song, the listener still feels as if they are ascending into something exciting.
“Welcomes The Pressure” is the first instance of uncertainty, a common theme that is heard again in “Are We Having Any Fun?” Whether it’s uncertainty from a relationship or the band’s success (exemplified before the last chorus), it’s clear that this is the first turning point in the album. The song is straightforward with a consistently upbeat tempo until the breakdown towards the end.
The album begins to get interesting with “Citizen,” especially with the help of Gary Clark Jr. After all the experimentation of styles from the previous three songs, Sir Sly take a step back and take a more straightforward approach with this song, driven by raw emotions from Landon Jacobs’ singing, later heard again in “I.M.G.” Many will agree the guitar solo at the end of the song is the first exciting part of the album. After listening to it, the listener realizes that this was the first fight in the relationship timeline. Much like a real fight, the listener probably didn’t even realize what was happening until it was over.
The album takes another turn when “Numb” starts to play next. Sir Sly takes a very literal approach with this phase of the relationship, especially with a chorus that goes, “Some nights, I’m a little bit numb.” The listener begins to see a clear path for this album and where it’s going. This dreary track is exactly what one would want to listen to after getting into a fight.
The relationship continues with “Are We Having Any Fun?” This experimental track starts off feeling more electronic/ indie-pop than usual but then transitions to an indie chorus and back again. This is a question that every couple has to ask themselves. It can serve as a turning point for the relationship, much like it does for this album. Ironically, it is hopeful, simple, and easy to listen to.
If the next song, “Thx.,” (technically an interlude), indicates how the previous question was finally answered, one can assume the relationship has ended. This track starts very lonely, with what sounds like piano, but is edited to sound more nostalgic. Apologies are spewed throughout the lyrics, suggesting that Loverboy is at fault for this breakup.
The band’s first single, “Material Boy,” sits in the middle of the album and serves as a critical moment for the relationship. In this part, the newly single character starts to pick themselves up. Despite the song being one of the poppiest songs on the album, it serves as the third turning point for Loverboy. It’s a moment where Loveryboy starts to realize the problem that he is a material boy living in a spiritual world, and he has a spiritual void in his heart. This is a hopeful turning point for Loverboy, illustrated by the poppiness of the song. Unfortunately, what follows this moment of a relationship is confusion and doubt.
“Sick sick [sic]” and “I.M.G.” both illustrate those feelings. The first serves as the “looking back phase,” where once again it starts dreary with more profanity-filled self-doubt. “I.M.G.” piggybacks off this emotion before exploding into another raw track that sounds like the most rock-sounding. Despite this raw instrumentation, the confusion is still evident. Something about this track that not any other track has is a rap breakdown. It isn’t clear who performs this, but it’s one of the more explicit moments of the album.
The band’s second previously released single, “Little Deaths,” returns to normalcy as it did with “Citizen.” Much like that song, this is another one of the highlights from this album. The simplicity and background singing create a sense of serenity and resolution that Loverboy has been craving. The all-too-familiar feelings are reinforced once again in this song when Jacob shares he is scared of being alone.
Unfortunately for Loverboy, he follows this path of fear into the next song, “All I Want To Do Is Cry (In The Club),” perhaps the lowest of lows. When you’re sitting at rock bottom, you often don’t recognize yourself. Fans may experience this as well with this song, as the majority of singing is in auto-tune.
Like any great story, the main character bounces back and comes to some resolution, which is exactly how the album ends with “D00msday” and “B!!!rds.” The listener is reminded that everything will be okay, and the hopeful energy from the first couple of songs returns. Growth and pride shine bright in this song, as they should after any relationship. After a life-changing relationship like the one Loverboy has experienced, one would hope the character comes out better than before.
“B!!!rds” captures that idea perfectly as they end with a beautiful indie guitar track that eventually builds with the experimentation from the rest of the album. These hints of electronics could potentially serve as Loverboy feeling ready to get back into another relationship. The band leaves fans with the best part of the album, a spontaneous burst of reverb that leads to a quick rock breakdown. By now, the rise and fall of Loverboy have made a complete circle, as the band sings about starting over and feeling overwhelmed about it.
Sir Sly’s third studio album takes the listener on a rollercoaster of emotions that closely resemble a relationship, as one would guess from the title. From the start of the album, the listener is submerged in the feelings of a new relationship, something fresh, risky, and exciting. A few songs later, the listener starts to feel the first few bumps, eventually leading to a rocky decline and a satisfying conclusion that left listeners feeling they’ve grown with the album.
The band takes a very literal direction with this album and occasionally provides moments that are a little too predictable, such as with “Loverboy,” “Numb,” and “All I Want To Do Is Cry (In The Club).” However, the variety of styles, messages, and experimentation all help recreate the emotions felt throughout a relationship. Although the album starts slow, like some relationships, it picks up and takes the listener on a journey through Loverboy’s life. At times the story can be a bit predictable, but overall it makes for a relatable story with moments everyone has experienced. Some of our favorite songs include “Are We Having Any Fun?” “I.M.G.,” and B!!!rds.”
It’s evident Sir Sly is very vulnerable and brave throughout this album. The band takes a risk and tells the world that they too experience these emotions, much like everyone else in the world. This is probably best exemplified in “Little Deaths,” where Jacobs sings, “I’m not alone, the best I do is try.”
Thankfully, Loverboy comes out alive, and Sir Sly provides fans with a moment of true musical genius in the last 30 seconds. It is worth listening to the entire album chronologically to reach that climax as part of the story. Individually, the songs are pretty good and showcase Sir Sly’s many abilities with their sound.