When Andrew McMahon discovers you, likes your music, and then offers you a deal on his label imprint, you should be honored. And for Chicago alt/rock band Treaty of Paris, that is exactly what has happened. The August's You Gotta Knows' debut full-length 'Sweet Dreams, Sucker' may be one of the best indie releases of the year and if it was a major-label debut, definitely would be among the best debuts of the year as well. The 12-track album is a well-crafted masterpiece with a few inside jokes only native Chicagoans like this reviewer would get on one particular song and a deep lush sound that can be characterized as hooky and hynoptizing.
The album starts with all cylinders firing with the slightly anthemic rocker 'Here Goes Nothing' but it is 'Waking Up The Dead' that really gets the listener going. The song alone is driven by the multi-layered instrumentation with the pulsing electric guitars and drumwork; the driving lyrics add a big tasty cherry on the top. 'Quits' would be the quintessential mainstream radio-friendly song if it were a major label debut but don't be surprised if a TV show picks up this comparatively airy and melodically catchy rocker in the near future.
'I'll Come Back' is one of the best tracks on the album; the song begins slow and soft with the lilting acoustic guitar and crescendoes into their familiar anthemic power-pop sound as they launch into the refrain "I'll come back for...I'll come back for you...!" Enduring love is a theme in this track and is easily relatable by anyone listening to this very smart song. The uptempo returns with the very pop/punk-like 'Hello Nurse,' with the familiar upbeat drums and crashing guitars with lyrics like "You could be my nurse/ I'll be the patient/You're saving mouth to mouth resuscitating."
"State Tollway" is definitely not a song about the tollway system in the state of Illinois, but you hear a reference of the "favorite colors" "blue and green," the dominant colors used by the state tollway system. Outside of a small and obscure reference, the song is more about a relatable theme of long-distance relationships. Then again using the country's largest and longest tollway system which begins at the Wisconsin border to the Indiana border as a reference to long-distance relationships is interesting and creative to this reviewer.
"Tired All The Time" begins with an inside reference to Chicago radio that only native Chicagoans may only get, like this reviewer such as "Traffic On The 8s" which is uttered by a Chicago all-news station literally on the 8s every day as well as the propensity for many Chicago morning radio shows on the FM dial to talk about some notable commercials heard during their breaks. The song though is more of an allegory and to this reviewer a faux-tribute to every person that has to commute to and back from downtown Chicago and has a small and subtle jab at the area's less-than harmonious traffic patterns. It is also quite fitting that 'Tired All The Time' has a belligerent tone and feel, as such sentiment can be shared by anyone driving on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan, Stevenson, Skyway, Edens, or Eisenhower at 5:30 PM in the evening or at 6 am in the morning.
'Why Am I Still Broke' is definitely a song anyone between the ages of 16 and 30 can relate to. Anyone in the age range is asking the first line in the refrain, "Where did all my money go?!" and the last line, "Why Am I Still Broke?" The album ends with the title track, 'Sweet Dreams, Sucker' and within the first 30 seconds you know exactly what this song is all about...dreams, a girl, the need for the girl, and the need for the sweet dreams to come.
Overall, this album is one of the best indie releases of the year, or at least it should be. Some people may not get the subtle references to Chicago, especially in 'Tired All The Time' who this reviewer is convinced is a funny but subtle tribute to Chicago's famous rush hours and the very poor souls that have drive on it. 'Hello Nurse' and 'Quits' have immense commercial appeal and won't be surprised either or both land airtime on a TV show. At the very least some station in Chicago will play the subtly angry 'Tired All The Time' during rush hour. The album is well-crafted and quite fun to listen to...very few albums today can grab you at the start and make you say "Wow" and that is exactly what Treaty of Paris has does although 'Waking Up The Dead' could have been a better choice to start than 'Here Goes Nothing' as 'Waking Up The Dead' really hits the soul from the get go with the magnificent guitar work and the propulsive lyrics that went with it,
The final word is that Andrew McMahon can only not be a great musician, but he's extended his greatness for finding talent and he certainly has done so from this band from Chicago. This is an album you got to have if you like power pop and everything that comes with the genre.
Name: "Sweet Dreams, Sucker "
Label: Airport Tapes & Records
Release Date: September 25, 2007
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org