Trouble in Mind is getting to the point with their cover art. The point is: let the music stand for itself. Or maybe it’s just a copout since they think everybody will download it instead. Anyway, with their fifteenth release, the label sticks to their favored style: Midwestern pop-flavored garage. Sticks N Stones may stick rather firmly to genre conventions, but they do so well and the two songs on Is It You? offer upbeat, positive jams you can both singalong and dance to if that’s your thing.
The Milwaukee band likes their chords big and their choruses catchy—utilizing the refrain in the song title and offering some big breakdowns and cymbal crashes. On A-side “Is It You?” singer Paul Kalfahs puts forth rhetorical lyrics while bassist Natalie Clark piles on the harmonies. The power pop is delivered through a veil of distortion, but not enough to muddle the sunshine coming through the melody. Overall, it’s peppy, pleasant, and familiar.
B-side “Telling the Truth” follows a similar format, with Kalfahs taking the lead until the chorus, where he’s joined with group vocals. The guitars stick to basic chords while Clark’s bass jumps around just enough to give the song some texture without straying too far from its roots. It’s the sort of music you can singalong to on first listen, yet are unable to explain the content if asked—the melody dominates and the guitar rules.
For being their second release it shows promise, but the confines of the genre limit its appeal. Maybe a full length would offer more variety than a single. Of the two songs, “Is It You?” definitely sticks out as the more memorable, making it a good choice for side A.
6.8 / 10
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