String Cheese Incident have returned to the studio to release Believe, almost exactly three years after their previous album Song In My Head. The concise forty-two minute LP features a central theme of love, but in contrast to past songs where love was more generalized, it this case it is romanticized. The sextet uses a variety of somewhat different sounding songs that all unite under the theme of love.
The first track and title song “Believe” jumps straight into a sound typical of the bands live ‘Incidents’, with Michael Kang singing and caressing his beautiful custom five-string mandolin. Backup singers give the tune a feel similar to Trey Anastasio Band. “Sweet Spot” features the first of several tracks voiced by bassist Keith Moseley. The group collaborates to create a sound reminiscent of Tedeschi Trucks Band.
String Cheese Incident rarely strays from the themes of nature, love, and enjoyment. Believe is no different, yet it touches on these subjects from an approach that is often different from classic SCI. Acoustic songs are not new to the group, yet the few on this record are executed vastly different from the past.
“My One and Only” has a sound that is distinctly new for the group, an extremely slow pacing lends its way to “Cheesier” sounds for the final minute. This formula is somewhat re-used again on the follow track, “Down a River”. Keith Moseley again takes the lead on “Get Tight”, with guitarist Bill Nershi joining in harmony during the refrain. The song invokes strong imagery of a lakeside summer party with friends.
“Stop Drop Roll” fits along past songs such as “Rosie” and “Colliding” that feature a strong dance beat with a fair share of electronic samples. It truly sounds like the hybrid of Talking Heads and Daft Punk, with a sound that will certainly make it a crowd pleaser at live shows. The infectious smile of keyboard player Kyle Hollingsworth can be felt in the undertones of his voice on this extremely catchy tune.
Sounding like a 90s indie-pop track, “So Much Fun” is an unexpected change-up before the final song, it is an anthem on reminiscing adolescence. “Beautiful” begins with a Disco Biscuits-esque jamtronica beat before quickly shifting back and forth to a jazzy-latino sound which, like most SCI jazzy segments, is played at a quick pace. The song reverts often to the sound from the outset, somehow juxtaposing it smoothly with the fiery verses. That is, until the sounds of EOTO (brainchild of the dual drummers, Michael Travis and Jason Hann
Believe is a fresh approach to common themes broached by String Cheese Incident, who released Beliveve twenty-one years after their debut album. It does not quite match the levels of Song In My Head, which featured live favorites finally recorded in a studio setting. However these new tunes, only now becoming part of the live rotation, introduce even more diversity to a live setting at which the group has become quasi-masters.
Believe is now available everywhere. To purchase a copy, click here!