BY TIM HINELY
Chicago sibling band The Safes have been at it for nearly two decades now (my introduction to them was the Boogie Woogie Rumble EP from 2004) . They started out more roughed up garage rockers but their sound has changed over the years. Yes. the O’Malley brothers, Frank on vocals/guitar/lots more same with Patrick while the rhythm section is held down by Mike (bass) and Sean (drums) have matured over the years, as well all do (well, most of us). The sound created on Winning Combination is more like a chamber pop record, which I happen to love. In addition to the four core O’Malleys they brought in 15 other family members, mostly nieces and nephews, who don’t have the O’Malley last name but adding in violin, cello and much more and the resulting record is a lovely, melodic low-key affair with truly terrific songwriting and a real sense of purpose.
Opening cut “It’s True” makes the initial statement but other cuts like the piano pop of “Dreams That Ignite” and the swirling, swaying beauty of “The Rest of My Life” and the darker “Open Your Eyes” further punctuate it with a sense of beauty not heard on other Safes records. I’m hearing echoes of brilliant pilgrims like the Left Banke or The Zombies (with occasional nods to heavies like The Kinks) so these gents really did their homework. While you’re listening don’t miss the dreamy “The Shell Spell” or the epic “Ship Sinking Grin.” The Safes made the record they truly wanted to and in doing so they knocked it so much further with less tone and bluster. I guess, on the end, what I’m trying to say is do not miss Winning Combination.
DOWNLOAD: “It’s True,” “Dreams That Ignite,” “Ship Sinking Grin”