Rings (Frenchkiss) is a confusing twist of many things, indie aesthetic, chilled pop, and most notably, the distinct sound of South Carolina adolescent jam band reggae. But none of it correctly identifies the subtle charm of Bones and his solo debut, which seems to float somewhere down the river in ninety-degree heat with lemonade in hand. And don't be fooled by the laid back demeanor; Sullivan (a.k.a. Bones), spent many hours working to make this record happen. This is an escape, a fantasy made possible by the versatility of Bones multi-faceted interests, an adventure in the possibilities of genre bending.
Although Sean Bones has departed from the straightforward rock of his band Sam Champion, it's still oozing out the corners of his tracks. His vocals never breach the insufferable lingo plaguing today's worst examples reggae, or better put, Andy Samberg's best Lonely Island impression of a confused rasta-wannabe. Bones is no 'Ras Trent' here; instead he seems oddly calm over the music, even the distinctly nuanced organs on Easy Street. But with songs like Cry Cry Cry, there is no denying the general interest in a culture of music far removed from the indie-pop of Heavenly Bender. Much of the early tracks rely on the offbeat guitar jangs, Hammond organ, and chord-outlining bass, all staples of the genre. It's a bit daunting at first, especially for fans of Sam Champion looking for a derivative work to find only remnants. But hang in there, wary listeners. Don't judge an album by its genre.
Unlike many records of late, which peak early and fizzle out, the best of Sean Bones doesn't happen until the later tracks. The enjoyable thing about Rings is watching it's idea of itself disintegrate as the tracks go by. Instigator brings in horns, and uses them predominately. Smoke Rings sounds more like Maroon Five funk than the previous cuts (not totally there though), and then Visions happens and we get the true Bones: a sort of amalgamation of a bunch of different veins, all strung together with panache. The cutesy duet with Norah Jones (Turn Them) is a great touch. And Dancehalls is some sort of reggae melting crock-pot of rock and funk. It's been simmering for a good amount, so it's just starting to taste good. And suddenly we're enjoying the steel drums. It's not even a joke. - Joe Puglisi