Photo Credit: EMP Media/Halfheart Media
Though you wouldn’t guess it from a casual listen, there’s something remarkably ambitious about the second album of Said The Sky – the musical project of Coloradan Trevor Christensen. Like the best albums of our time – take Fetch The Bolt Cutters and Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, for two recent examples – Sentiment attempts to combine multiple opposing musical genres and sounds into something distinctly its own. Unlike those albums, however, Sentiment doesn’t so much fuse together different sounds, as it does merely place them up against each other. Many of these songs begin as straightforward folk-pop – with tales of heartache and longing set over gentle guitar strumming – before an overpowering beat “drop” comes out of nowhere in the last minute or so. Meanwhile, tracks like “Emotion Sickness” begin with acoustic-pop arrangements that recall Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes before bizarrely transitioning into a pop-punk-infused chorus.
All of this makes Sentiment a frustratingly fragmented listening experience. On his second album, Christensen sounds like an artist searching for an identity; trying on multiple different musical outfits, before ultimately deciding none of them quite fit right. Sentiment’s ambition is admirable, but oftentimes, in trying to do everything and please everyone, it seemingly pleases no one.
For a large portion of its run-time, Sentiment seems as though it was intended to be “vibe” music; with faint acoustic arrangements backdropping lilting vocal deliveries from a myriad of artists, who sing lyrics that are fittingly sentimental, but rarely truly arresting. Yet, as soon as that happens, there’s some abrupt change of pace that totally changes the mood. A few moments like this here and there could be justified in the name of spontaneity and surprise, but it actually ends up happening with such regularity that it becomes predictable. By the album’s end, you find yourself listening to these inoffensive bedroom-pop numbers, bracing yourself for the inevitable jarring EDM turn – and sure enough, it almost always comes.
Every track on here, bar one, has a featured guest, and only one of those guests appears on more than one track. Each artist does their job and succeeds in their admittedly limited role to varying degrees, but none truly leave their mark. It all contributes to this uncomfortable, yet unshakeable, sense of hollowness. The songs of Sentiment tell of real emotions – real-life experiences. Yet they’re paired with such insipid arrangements and pitch-perfect, but unremarkable, vocals that it’s hard to be sold on what these songs are selling.
Both “We Know Who We Are” and “Forgotten You” employ attention to small details that are clearly inspired by the songwriting of Taylor Swift (“Punk band playing Black Flag…lead singer wearing dog tags”, “It was Christmas Eve when I heard you leave”). But like so many songs here, it quickly devolves into soulless EDM, and like so many songs here, its exploration of this sound is far too brief and surface-level to yield any remotely interesting results.
Meanwhile, lyrical short-comings are exposed on “Legacy”; which sounds far more interesting than most songs here but ultimately dissolves into a mindless ABC rhyme scheme (“How did enemies come from chemistry? // At least you and me left a legacy?”) Like most of the songs on Sentiment, it seeks to express real feeling, but ultimately only offers hints of it.