Sheppard fails to entertain

In the world of art, inspiration and imitation go hand-in-hand. Artists will try out a role model’s style; they adopt it and, hopefully, adapt it into something new. Music is no exception to this rule of art and what is big right now in music is repetition.

The hook of a song? Six words, repeated three times. Verses are four lines long and extremely forgettable. Chorus: five words and some humming noises; repeat those five words 10 times to complete the chorus. Repeat the chorus five times throughout a three-minute song.
Sheppard’s music follows this algorithm of radio-played music perfectly. Each song on “Bombs Away” is extremely easy to sing along to but is also entirely forgettable.

The songs themselves on “Bombs Away” have a lot in common with each other: synthy beats, lyricless vocal harmonies and frequent “do do do/la la la” melodies. Sometimes it is a male vocalist; sometimes it is female. Nonetheless, Sheppard makes music that is all very simple and safe-sounding. There seems to be little experimentation in the music; it is a sound that has been done by a thousand times by a thousand of other bands.

If you are not sure what one of their songs is called, have no fear and remember: the title will most likely be some of the 10 or so words that comprise of the chorus (which will be pop up every 30 seconds or so).

I think “Geronimo” is supposed to be their main single off the album. And I get it: it is fun and makes you want to jump around. It feels like it would be playing during montage of a romance movie where the boring couple overcome their horrible trials (probably caused by their own misunderstandings) and run off into the mountains to elope or something. “Take that, Mom! You must accept me and my boring lover.” Throw your problems behind you and just do whatever; it is like that.

But the actual song…listening to the song, “Geronimo” is extremely repetitive and really you only need to listen to it for a minute until it feels like a broken record. The three minutes and 40 seconds of this song last an eternity; it feels as if it will never end. It lasts forever. Why do I have to hear the chorus so much? It is not inherently a bad song: it just gets way too old way too fast, which is a good way to describe much of Sheppard.

A particularly low point of the album is the track “The Electric Feeling.” The female vocalist feels like a cheap rip-off of Lily Allen circa 2008. She strains so hard to sound angry and edgy, which creates an uncomfortable contrast with the happy-go-lucky and folky sound that is more or less constant throughout the rest of the album.

The only song that really stuck with me was “Find Someone.” It has a flippant and vengeful attitude and a fun synthy beat. Of course, it also has Sheppard’s trademark of excessive repetition. This song made me think that maybe I would not delete “Bombs Away” from my iPod the instant I finished writing this but it was not enough to deter deletion and I will be happy to get rid of Sheppard.

Sheppard is a band of few words and a lot of lines. Meaning that they have very few portions of songs that are just instrumentals alone. It is like they were trying to craft music for someone with a limited vocabulary and therefore used the minimum amount of words to create sentences. Like maybe someone is trying to learn English and Sheppard got together and decided to help them out.

They do not make bad music. It is just not good. It is just painfully repetitive. And I will be happy to delete their album from my life.