thinkbendy’s debut Change, written by onetime U-Melt bassist Adam Bendy, begins with the track “Free”, a stately and even lightly theatrical opener . It’s Bendy’s first time singing and playing keyboards on an album, but you can’t tell – he weaves his piano playing and voice alike through a mid-tempo arrangement ably accompanied by former U-Melt members George Miller’s measured drumming and guitarist Robert Salzer’s varied approach. It never follows a straight line from beginning to end; the song’s second half is rife with variations adding to its cumulative impact. There’s a ragged emotional quality I hear in Bendy’s voice, never note perfect, thankfully so, and possessing an ability for immediately connecting with listeners. The lyrics are direct and intelligent throughout.

The album’s title song opens with an ear-catching piano flourish before Bendy pulls back the keys and segues into the first of its moderate, nuanced verses.  The emotional tenor of this song has a different slant than the wide-open greeting of “Free” and this is reflected in Bendy’s inward looking lyrics and pensive vocal. There are well timed vamps placed throughout the track raising its dramatic value. I hesitate to call this music pop influenced but, Bendy’s pop sensibilities are cut from a distinctly different cloth than we hear from far lesser performers. Those sensibilities are top shelf and aiming for art rather than artifice.

“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” has a knotty, seemingly circular arrangement Bendy’s voice digs into with  surprising bite and Salzer adorns the track with some of the same brief filigree guitar runs that added sparkle to the album opener. George Miller’s drumming is one of the critical factors driving the success of Change and this song bears out the assertion – it would not prove nearly as effective without his command of timing, particularly when the song tackles especially satisfying tempo shifts. It concludes with a memorable Salzer guitar solo. While this song is much more in a rock vein than previous numbers,

“Proceed to Continue” returns listeners to the more familiar territory of the early album tracks. The fifth track has many of the same strong melodic virtues boasting its own distinctive character and the vocals, including on point backing vocal support, are playful and immensely musical. The album’s second to last song, “Of One Mind”, arguably features the most challenging arrangement on this release. We are undoubtedly hearing Bendy’s musical past as a member of U-Melt coming to the fore with this track as he and past band mates Miller and Salzer carry listeners through a performance sparkling with the strongest dynamics shifts yet on this release.

It sets the stage nicely for the album’s finale “Epiphany”. The last song opens with a boisterous guitar driven introduction before transitioning into a piano led arrangement

Sebastian Cole