Sing-Sing were formed in 1997 by Emma Anderson formerly of shoegazer band Lush and Lisa O'Neill who had sung for Mad Professor and Kid Loco amongst others but had had no real solo or band career as such. Sing-Sing were classed as dreampop but I think this was more due to Lisa O'Neills influences than anything created by Emma Anderson.
This album which was their 1st was released in 2001 coming after the small success of some EP releases was produced by Mark Van Hoen (aka Locust) who vocalist Lisa O'Neill had previously worked with so I wonder if he got this gig via a bit of nepotism.
Anderson played guitars, wrote songs and did backing vocals whilst O'Neill also wrote some songs but mainly provided lead & backing vocals. Van Hoen gets song credits for playing bass, keyboards, backing vocals & electric guitar as well as programming drums & keyboards.
So whats on The Joy Of Sing Sing then?
1 - Everything (Anderson) 3:14.
The rather weird musical box intro might throw a few people off kilter but once the vocals kick in it does become rather shoegazeresque, the guitar line is rather nice and this is definately one for the Lush fans. This even has the typically layered vocals which were a hallmark of Lush too.
2 - Tegan (Anderson, Cipriani, O'Neill) 4:52
The title of which apparently means beautiful little thing in Cornish, you learn something new every day, don't you? The breakbeat really can't make its mind up and constantly changes but its certainly very different going from techno to Madchester to 80's synth & everywhere in between on the trip.
Stelvio Cipriani is known for writing Italian film & spaghetti western soundtracks and is credited because the track contains a sample from "A Man, A Horse And A Gun". This track was released as a single in 2001.
3 - I'll Be (Anderson, Benson, O'Neill) 3:34.
This rather chilled & laid back triphop like track contains a sample From "The Twins At St. Clair's" by Enid Blyton, I can only assume Benson was the person who read it. This was released as a single in 2000, its in a very lofi style that reminds me of early Massive Attack stuff circa "Blue Lines". Lisa O'Neill almost sounds like Sarah Cracknell from Saint Etienne (think "Your In A Bad Way" & you are in the right kind of ballpark) on this.
4 - Me And My Friend (O'Neill) 3:40.
A rather bassy electronic intro in another track that screams influences from Massive Attack (I think O'Neill was hugely influenced by Mad Professor in no uncertain terms here as this is also very similar to stuff off Blue Lines again), its also quite laid back but not unpleasant.
5 - Far Away From Love (Anderson, Van Hoen) 3:41.
You can tell this is an Emma Anderson track with the guitar line intro & vocal style that feels like it was left off an unproduced Lush album, it even has the layered hard to understand vocal line too - all the great hallmarks of Lush. The track contains a sample from "Free Jazzer" written by Van Hoen under the name of Locust.
6 - Panda Eyes (Anderson) 4:01.
A rather 80's Human League style synthy electronic sound that also sounds like Saint Etienne again, this was released as a single in 2001. The chorus has some rather cool typically Lush style anti-harmonies and I can see Lush fans really liking this. I would peg this as a good song to put on any future album of a reformed Lush as it would really suit Miki's vocal style.
7 - Command (O'Neill) 4:25.
Another rather nice synthy yet triphop style intro, it seems Lisa O'Neill was really struggling to break away from her lofi influences here but its a really nice track with a rather good chord structure that really complements the vocals. I'd have released this as a single as I reckon it would have been huge, its seriously excellent.
8 - Feels Like Summer (Anderson, Bloom, Cordell, Gentry, James) 4:08.
A rather 60's style intro with bags of Les Paul style guitar but a Lushlike layered vocal chorus, it actually reminds me of the song "Secret Agent Man". As far as the other names credited on the track well Bobby Bloom is better known for writing "Montego Bay" however his credit with Ritchie Cordell, Tommy James & Bo Gentry was for writing "Mony Mony" which is sampled on this track.
A remix of this track was released as a single in 2000, I normally have a really good ear for other tracks or influences but I can't hear ANY of "Mony Mony" in this if I am honest and I think Emma Anderson was being overly generous sharing credit for this.
9 - Émigré (O'Neill) 4:09.
This has a rather prog rock Hammond Organ intro & riff that sort of devolves into something remotely Goth in feeling, guest vocals come from Vinny Miller who was also on the 4AD label with Lush, he sounds like Nick Cave in my opinion (think of his duet with Kylie which is a LOT like this track in its sound palette). Maybe another bit of nepotism getting him the job there? The harps are rather cool though.
10 - You Don't Know (Anderson) 4:26.
A very early 80's synthy intro with minimal drums and guitar that turns into a Lush track as you listen to it, yet another tune that could have easily fit onto any of the Lush albums so you really get the feeling Emma had written a lot of material that might have been recorded for the next album if Chris Acland (the Lush Drummer) hadn't committed suicide.
11 - Underage (Anderson) 3:08.
A rather bassy electronica intro with more hard to understand Lush style vocals low down in the mix, this one also reminds me of Saint Etienne yet again so I do wonder how much Emma Anderson liked Sarah Cracknell but it also reminds me of her own Lush track Olympia as well. Extremely laid back, couldn't be an easier listening if you tried.
12 - I Can See You (O'Neill, Van Hoen) 9:56.
Trip hop bass meets the 60's here with a rather Madchester breakbeat, I get the feeling this track has more of Van Hoens electronic influences. If The Beatles during their Sgt Pepper era had ever met The Inspiral Carpets I get the feeling something like this would have been the result.
This was released as a single in 1999, it was a double a sided release with the band Linoleum whose contribution was called "Your Back Again". This track is actually only 4:56 long followed by 1 minutes silence & then we get a hidden bonus track!
13 - Keep It That Way 4:00.
Introduced by the sound of tube trains and runs with an almost Beautiful South type vocal style (think "Rotterdam") accompanied with accordian, guest male vocals come from Departure Lounge singer Tim Keegan. The string section is rather nice too, it sounds like something they recorded on the Paris Metro with its very French feel.
Summing up there actually aren't many bad tracks on this and the ones that aren't brilliant will grow on you for sure, its only a shame that it took so long for the band to make a 2nd album which turned out to be not only so different from this it was also their last outing recording as a band together as they split in 2007. Lush fans will like most of this album and to be honest they won't be disappointed if they spend their hard earned money on it.
(this review also appears on Ciao)