Riding the wave of viral single Rich Man, a string of successful shows at The Edinburgh Fringe, with more planned for America in the coming weeks, and victory in the UK Voice Festival, Semi-Toned are thriving on the national and global stage. Having successfully turned their focus away from the local and intra-university a cappella scene, the release of strong recorded material is imperative as the next step in the group’s development. Fortunately, Sing Theory is a vivacious, engaging effort that cements the 14-strong a cappella group as one of the best vocal outfits in the country.
It’s a testament to the slickness of arrangement, execution and production here that Rich Man is by no means the strongest track on the six song EP. Yes, it might be an impressive display of a formidable series of styles, all performed ably and meshed together succinctly, but I personally prefer the more cogent tracks on Sing Theory. Good Times is perhaps the best example of this aesthetic, a highly energetic rendition of Chic’s danceable classic that includes a smattering of Time by Jungle which never overpowers the track’s backbone. Elsewhere, a nuanced and extremely well mastered cover of Beyonce’s 7/11 proves Semi-Toned can formulate a unique arrangement without having to mash multiple originals together. I’ve already mentioned this in passing but the production throughout Sing Theory is excellent; no small feat considering a cappella EPs often have problems in capturing the vivacity of multi-vocal performance without sounding slightly too polished.
Semi-Toned are at the point now where they are so undisputedly adept in their genre that it becomes very difficult to criticise them. The only suggestion I would have is that their covers of The Chain and Samson are perhaps slightly too close to the original instrumental recordings. Of course these are both extremely listenable and performed with aplomb, but after the invention displayed elsewhere, it’s a shame there isn’t more done with these numbers. Having said that, there are no weak points in Sing Theory and it’s an intensely engaging listen. I highly recommend downloading a copy, and of course checking Semi-Toned out when they next perform in Exeter.
You can listen to Sing Theory here.