Review: The Time Machine - The Sippy Cups

TheTimeMachine.jpgThe kids music resurgence has been relatively brief, and so we haven't necessarily had the time to watch too many bands mature and change their sounds over time. An exception is the Bay Area band The Sippy Cups. They started out doing nothing but covers, primarily of '60s and '70s psychedelic tunes. They then moved to mostly original '60s and '70s-sounding psychedelic tunes. It's only been on their last couple albums that they've developed a fuller sound (and added some skits to the mix).

All of which has been to the good. Their latest album The Time Machine is at times both their most conventional-sounding and also their most adventurous. Although it's not quite a concept album, there a number of songs about about growing up (hence the title). As a result, based on subject matter alone, this definitely their most typical "kids album." Of course, I happen to like some of those songs the best. The power-poppy "My Angry Voice" describes anger in easily accessible phrases ("Breathing fast / My heart is racing / I won't look you in the eyes / What's that sound? / It's someone shouting / That sounds like me / What a surprise") while "Don't Remove the Groove" ameliorates whatever preachiness a song about environmental warming might contain by being, well, groovy and turning it into a "freeze dance" song. "Seven Is The New 14" will likely go over heads of the 14-, er, 7-year-olds the song is targeted at, but its amusing spin on "age is nothing but a number" will draw chuckles from the parents.

For those of you originally drawn to the band for its original more psychedelic sounds won't be disappointed -- the title track and concluding track "Awake" (the latter clocking in at 6 minutes) are definitely could've been recorded 35 or 40 years ago, while "One Day Soon" is an excellent pastiche of Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles. If there's a downside to the songwriting here it's that at times I felt like they were relying too heavily on the metaphorical imagery to the detriment of more sharply describing the experience of growing up. The worst tracks here are still better than 60% of the songs in the genre, but their excellent songs make the just adequate ones stand out. (As for the skits, I like 'em, and I typically haaaate skits, but I realize that your mileage may vary.)

The 44-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 9. You can listen to some tracks here or samples at the album's CDBaby page.

The Sippy Cups have developed into one of the most adventurous kids bands on today's scene. With a strong catalog of songs and an energetic live show, they seem set to be around making music for years to come. The Time Machine is, appropriately enough, evidence of their continuing evolution, and shows that growing up is usually a pretty good thing. Definitely recommended.