There’s nothing like an impending tour to get me excited about a new album. The Tea Club are getting ready to set out with Bent Knee and Thank You Scientist to tour North America in what I am positive will be an event to remember. All three bands have new albums to show off, and The Tea Club’s “If/When” is certainly pulling no punches. The album released on July 30th.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, The Tea Club consists of Daniel McGowan on vocals, electric, and acoustic guitars; Patrick McGowan on vocals, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, 12-string guitars, and mandolin; Jamie Wolff on bass guitar; Joe Dorsey on keyboards; and Dan Monda on drums and percussion. You may recognize Joe from my review earlier this year for the electronic project AfterForm, along with his bands Ocean Architecture and solo electronic project Involved. I know I’ve posted about them quite often.
The music here is progressive rock with pop and indie rock elements. I would honestly put them alongside the likes of The Dear Hunter, if you wanted a reference. They will go great alongside Thank You Scientist and Bent Knee on the upcoming tour. The band really seems to focus on strong vocal melodies, quaint and almost pastoral atmospheres, and a slight quirk that gives everything a bit more personality. The band also knows how to rock, though, and so you’ll hear plenty of driving guitars and almost cacophonous sound design at times. It all makes for an engaging and interesting overall effect.
There are two things I want to highlight here. First, the vocals are really, really good. Daniel and Patrick have some instantly likable vocal lines, ones that seem completely inspired, and almost familiar and golden. These strong choruses and vocal melodies really bolster the rest of the album well. Second, Joe’s keys are fantastic. Just like the vocal melodies, there are parts where Joe’s synth or piano just feel like a breath of fresh air. He really provides the sophistication and presence that are needed to counteract the blaring bass and strong guitars.
The album has only seven tracks, but all of them are wonderful. Some of them focus more on the vocals. “The Way You Call”, for instance, is a strong opening vocal piece with an amazing central hook. “If I Mean When” is a real ear worm with its warm chorus and bursting heart full of passion, and might be my favorite overall.
Other tracks are more of a mix or focus more on the instruments. For example, “Say Yes” has a very strong exclamatory chorus, but the winding instrumentation is what really makes it a pleasure. Now, the album ending epic “Creature” is perhaps the best display of the band’s instrumental abilities. “Creature” is 27 minutes in length, and every bit of it is amazing. It transitions, as expected, many times, from rocking portions to electronic interludes to synth portions. There is a part in the last five minutes that feels almost 80s in its nostalgic synthetic goodness, and, every time I hear it, I just have to sit back in wonder and this strange sense of peace. This song is truly a magnificent beast.
The Tea Club have yet another great album on their hands, and I’m hoping that they get more exposure for it this time. They really do have the chops to play with much bigger acts, and their melodies are second to none. Be sure to check out the new album, and see them on tour later this year.