album review: Breathe EP by Rice

One of Skinny Records latest recruits, Rice, are in the process of writing and recording their first full-length album. Until then, their Breathe EP should appease you. The four-song CD gives you a taste of what we can expect in the future. It satisfies while leaving you hungry for more.
Lead singer Michael Martin’s vocals oscillate between the vibrato of a self-deprecating Conor Oberst and Isaac Brock at his most brooding. His lyrics are anything but overly-optimistic and seem to focus on the complications of relationships. Even at their most positive, the songs painfully acknowledge the possibility of failure and heartache.
The interplay between guitarists Paige McMullen and Christopher Pringle is executed so that neither ever really takes center stage even during their respective leads. Each provides an equal contribution to the overall sound so that the lack of one or the other would take away from the whole of the song. In other words, there is no redundancy, but rather the two are necessary complements. What results is reminiscent of early Saddle Creek with a touch of the Cure. Now that the big thing is going back to two and three-piece bands, it’s always nice to hear a five-piece that works this well together. The production on the album is top-notch, as should be expected with Ryan Turk pulling double duty, providing the bass, backing vocals and keys as well as the recording and mixing itself. The sound is clean and the layers blend naturally. Added sounds and effects make this debut far more than a demo release; it’s a legitimate recording from a promising young band. To achieve the gravitas this album presents, most bands would hire need to hire a producer. Rice is lucky enough to have one in the band.
Albeit a relatively new band, Rice is on track to make certain waves in and beyond Jacksonville. Their first video for ‘Would You’ was featured in the latest installment of the Jacksonville Music Video Revival and if Breathe is any indication, the future looks bright for these up-and-coming musicians.