Teenagers are not finished products and despite a hit single and charming 17-year-old singer Sydney Sierota, neither is Los Angeles sibling act Echosmith.
Comprised of four Sierota siblings who range in age from 15 to 21, Echosmith’s short set opening for American Authors at Showbox at the Market Thursday revealed the band still has a lot of work to do.
Things got off to a solid start with “Let’s Love,” which featured some nice vocal interaction between Sydney and her oldest brother, guitarist Jamie. Sadly, it was Echosmith’s strongest number of the night.
Throughout their set, which seemed to be over just as it was getting started, the band’s sound was plagued by a ruinous amount of guitar compression, drums that were too loud and indistinct vocals. It was an unbalanced, mushy soup that failed to replicate the crisp (if corporate and criminally boring) sound of Echosmith’s debut album, “Talking Dreams.”
Some songs simply weren’t written well, like “Tell Her You Love Her,” which relied too much on “wah-ohs” and not enough on sharp lyrics. Compared to a clever love song like “Tim McGraw,” written by Taylor Swift when she, too, was 17, lines like, “Don’t be everything she wants, be everything she needs,” become somewhat laughable.
The easy hook of Echosmith’s massive hit “Cool Kids” did most of the heavy lifting for the band and provided a singalong moment despite the fact that the song never really settled into a groove. “Nothing’s Wrong,” which closed the set, felt like an afterthought. Much like the buttoned-up collared shirts and suit jackets Jaime and bassist Noah wore, Echosmith seemed like they were playing musical dress-up most of the night.
It’s hard to know exactly who to blame for their anonymous sound, though producer Mike Elzindo (Maroon 5, Avenged Sevenfold) probably needs to shoulder a lot of the responsibility for not infusing more personality into “Talking Dreams.” Like a broad swath of indie pop, it is an entirely unmemorable collection of tunes that never pushes the boundaries and whose only challenge lies in identifying which more established acts each song apes.
Despite all that, it’s clear that the siblings have some real talent. Sydney was a strong frontwoman and excelled at engaging the decidedly young crowd, while Graham provided a solid backbone behind the drum kit.
The future is bright for Echosmith, if only because the future is always bright for talented young people still finding their way.