Sunday 4 September 2022

Album Review: Best Day Ever - Stacy & Athena

Stacy & Athena are a musical duo from New York, who have been writing and performing music since their college years. Having gradually gone their separate ways to bring up their respective families, they reconnected as a result of the pandemic, collaborating on a socially distanced birthday song. They had so much fun writing together, that they decided to keep going, resulting in the release of their debut album Best Day Ever. The album is quite superb, featuring rich acoustic instrumentation, delightful harmonies, and a host of original songs that are sure to inspire and entertain children across the globe.

And whilst we're discussing the globe, the opening track "Save Our World", attempts to do just that. Here the duo explore 'the type of things we can do' to save our planet, because ultimately, 'the earth is counting on you'. Here 'we go round and round and round to make the change somehow', whether this involves planting trees, or recycling our waste, we are all encouraged to do our bit for the planet. The music supports the sentiment here, with the acoustic guitar taking centre stage, piercing the wall of sound on display amongst an array of instrumentation competing for space.

Next up, "I Believe in Me" really conjures up a heart warming message of positivity, where we are reliably informed 'I can do anything because I believe in me.' The lyrics encourage the kids to think for themselves, and perhaps most importantly never 'follow the crowd'. Again the acoustic guitar takes centre stage, with a shuffle beat and a sparse bass providing additional support. Towards the end the song is stripped down to its bare essentials in true anthemic style, where we are encouraged to 'clap our hands' and sing 'because I can do anything'.

Feelings and emotions are clearly a hot topic at the moment, with the new generation having to deal with an increasingly complex and confusing world. The song "Breathe" further explores this topic; offering possible solutions, such as the importance of remembering to breathe particularly when we feel angry. The bass playing is a real stand out here, rich in texture, and demonstrating an exquisite understanding of both space and melody. The whispering harmonies contribute further to the lyrical impact, creating an overall atmosphere worthy of the theme on show. 

"Best Day Ever" has a lovely Crosby Stills and Nash vibe, featuring lyrics which declare with supreme confidence that this will be 'the best day ever', and 'we're gonna have fun', and why not? Life is too short not to. The melody rises and falls in tune with the overall vibe, which is relaxed and uncomplicated. The harmonies are highly effective, particularly on the chorus which is swimming in pop sensibility. 

"Chocolate Chip Cookies" has a tougher, more raw appeal, which at times ventures almost into Ramones territory. This song has heaps of attitude and really grabs the listener around the throat demanding to be heard. I love the bridge which features a dazzling guitar solo, with perhaps a hint of wah-wah pedal thrown in for good measure. No nonsense, pure rock and roll - love it!

From new wave to seventies disco, "Kooky Crazy" is a real blast from the past, featuring a rhythm guitar that wouldn't sound out of place on a Chic album, alongside an effusive saxophone and a pulsating bass that had me almost jumping out of my seat. Brilliant!

"Some Kids" has a nice country vibe, featuring crystal clear vocals alongside a stomping rhythm section. The arrangement is paradoxical, in that although the kids are told to 'stop' this only encourages them to continue with whatever activity they are currently embarking on. This idea is then reversed at the end, where the kids who finally want to sleep are told to 'wake up', much to their consternation. A very original idea, highly interactive and great fun.

"Happy Birthday to You" is another lively anthemic song, full of fun and gusto. I love the nonchalant vocal, which encourages the listener to join in with the actions. Whether they are instructed to 'clap to celebrate', 'march to celebrate', or 'jump to celebrate', the message is clear and we are all eagerly listening. The chorus is the real standout, with a hypnotic hook that really cuts the mustard. There is so much going on here, and all packed in to a song barely more than a minute long. 

All in all, a truly inspired album, crammed with alluring melodies that will no doubt delight and inspire the kids in turn. I love the freshness and energy of the music,  which is highly original, thought-provoking and brilliantly put together. Their sound draws on influences including, folk, country, rock and even disco at times, and does so in fine style. On this form I'm sure we'll be hearing much more from them in the future.

Stacy & Athena - the world needs you.

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