(29 July 2007) Smile, Broadcast Tatoos is the new nine-track and almost 30-minute self-released album by Philadephia, PA's Bebek. The group is comprised of Lynn Michalopoulos (vocals), Adam Mizelle (bass), Anthony Matthews (drums, Frank Vasile (guitar) and Nick Michalopoulos (keyboards). Links to our reviews of the band's prior releases, interviews with Lynn and Nick and band photos are found below the new album's cover. The band continue develop strength and audience with live performances in major venues that include the Tin Angel and Theater of the Living Arts (TLA).
Nick told us about the title. "I came up with Smile, Broadcast Tattoos. The songs all talk about big moments in our lives and the scars or marks that these moments have left. Some of the songs deal with our lives as musicians, some of them are personal to individual band members and some dealt with stuff that me and Lynn have experienced as a couple. So that's the Tattoos part of it. The Broadcast comes from the fact that we are talking about all these things, some very private, on this album and the Smile reflects the sense that in some way, putting the music here and performing music that is about you strengthens who you are."
"It doesn't try to erase the negative moments or the feelings you have had in the past, nor does it attempt to truly re-create the great moments, but when I hear the songs, I feel my skin tingle because they elicit a strong emotional and mental response from me."
The new album moves on from Open Eyes with an edgier live sound that keeps Lynn, remarkably, front and center in the mix. Electric guitar is far more prominent across the album's tracks. It opens with Lynn's lead vocal soaring above the rocky guitar-driven texture in "Marching Dolls." The percussive "8 AM" is more richly arranged with vocal harmonies and the contributions of lush and prominent keyboard parts.
Bebek's unique rhythm emerges in "Ahmed," and is reminiscent of the band's earlier releases although more crisply arranged on the new album. "Dust" is a gentle piano-based and bluesy ballad. The first half of the track is unusually sparse for Bebek, with occasional electric guitar and bass added for additional texture. Instrumentals develop further in the last half of the song.
"Hollow" is an upbeat and memorable rock track that clearly demonstrates Lynn's vocal power and the band's instrumental virtuousity. The track "I'm Mine" is well placed in the middle of the album, the vocal hook and harmony vocals perfectly balancing guitar and keyboards with the rhythm section.
"Alarm Clock" is the album's edgy standout track clearly written in Bebek's unique style. Short but progressively styled, Lynn's vocals are complemented by the band's rich and varied arrangements. "Scribble My Sides" is also uniquely Bebek, with soaring vocals evocatively delivered with only sparse harmonies atop keyboard layers offset by guitar riffs. The album concludes with the percussive "What Comes Next?" that builds in sound, icreasing the tempo of Lynn's vocal delivery.
About progress of this record from the last, Nick said, "The album did feel like a natural growth from the last record. I certainly become better and more comfortable with more authentic keyboard instrumentation, but also was able to create thicker more singular sounds on the keyboards. The record has a lot more guitar in it which reflects the important role that our guitarist Frank Vasile has taken on in the band, both musically and as one of the driving forces behind what we do. He and I co-wrote "I'm Mine" and "Scribble My Sides" - actually more specifically, he wrote the music to the songs and I wrote the lyrics."
Bebek's sound has developed nicely since the release of their first and self-titled album. They have drawn attention from audiences expanding from the progressive rock epicenter of North America. True to their unique style, the band has written, recorded and are performing richer arrangements and more memorable songs. While the running times of the individual tracks and the album as a whole could have been extended, Smile, Broadcast Tatoos will delight the band's current fans and new listeners alike.