8mm - Songs To Love and Die By
Record Label - Curb Appeal Records
Release Date - September 26, 2006
8mm is led by the husband and wife duo of Sean and Juliette Beavan, and while the name Juliette Beavan may seem a little unfamiliar, the name Sean Beavan should ring quite a few bells. Sean Beavan is the esteemed producer who has left his mark through producing or mixing on quite a few Nine Inch Nails records as well as working with Kill Hannah, Marilyn Manson, No Doubt, and Thrice. Armed with an album titled Songs To Love and Die By and appearing on high profile shows such as One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy, they are one-step closer to achieving their goal of achieving dominance in indie fan’s stereos across the world.
“No Way Back” highlights songstress Juliette Beavan’s ethereal vocals, which are perfectly accentuated by melancholic piano melodies and simple instrumentation. “No Way Back” is the perfect introduction to the whole aesthetic 8mm are reaching for on their debut full-length: sultry vocals, soul-bearing lyrics, and sweeping instrumentation. “You Know” deviates from the moody, simplistic feel of “No Way Back” and “Bones”, opening with a staccato opening guitar riff and utilizing more traditional rock instrumentation rather than the atmosphere-laden tendencies that opened the record. “Stunning” finds 8mm once again embracing their moodier side, bringing Juliette Beavan’s sultry vocals to the forefront as the perfect compliment to lyrics of falling in love and desiring to be with someone. The chorus of the track brings a pleasant surprise with upbeat melodies and a blues influenced guitar riff.
“Never Enough”, although it is one of the more simplistic songs on the album, packs the emotional wallop the band hope to deliver with every track. Juliette Beavan’s vocals shine when she does not have to compete with the other instruments, which is why her performance on “Never Enough” is one of the most impressive on the album. The band considers their music very cinematic and “Never Enough” is one of the better choices, along with “Forever and Ever Amen”, for television executives looking for that one perfect song for their newest drama series. “Quicksand” has the makings of a surefire hit with melodies that practically scream, “Put me on repeat!” Although “Never Enough” has television marketability written all over it, “Quicksand” is the first song on the record that makes good use of melody and would make for a great single.
“Give It Up” brings a more digitized feel to 8mm’s arsenal of emotion-heavy songs and marks a return to the darker, moodier style that prevails through much of the record. 8mm close out their relatively strong debut full-length with the popular piano ballad “Forever and Ever Amen” which was recently featured on Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill. An unexpected twist of this song is that it marks the first time Sean Beavan sings on the record, and he opens the track by himself before performing as a duet with his wife Juliette. It surprises me that Sean did not contribute more vocals to the record as he delivers a stellar performance on “Forever and Ever Amen”.
Songs To Love and Die By is a great debut album and it is clear why this band garners rave reviews from nearly every publication and has been labeled as an LA Times Buzz Band. Songs To Love and Die By obviously seeks to make a deep emotional connection with its listener, but the results of these attempts are hit and miss. Most of the tracks on the album are competently crafted but certain tracks such as “Quicksand”, “Forever And Ever Amen”, and “Never Enough” easily outshine the other tracks on the album. This record hints at a bright future for 8mm and I look forward to seeing their progression in future albums.