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Considering that The Orioles deviated from their usual song-structure on the flip side of this release, giving us their first single that looked to go outside the box in well over a year, you might be disappointed to learn that they quickly climbed back into that box on this side.

Then again, considering their attempts yesterday resulted in abject failure then perhaps you’ll be glad to know that this one takes absolutely no chances whatsoever, reverting back to the tried and true formula they’d been successful with – commercially if not aesthetically – for so long.


Maybe They’re Right, Maybe They’re Wrong
How to deal with this return to normalcy, or as we might be inclined to put it: “Back To Bland And Boring”, is something we never anticipated as having to deal with since we never imagined they’d break out of their usual mold in the first place and as a result we’re a little unsure of which response to it we should have.

On one hand this song contains the same lack of ambition we’ve long derided them for and so we probably shouldn’t find much about it to be complimentary about. Yet on the other hand it’s safely predictable, giving us what we’ve long since come to expect out of them and therefore we have no need to re-adjust our thinking when encountering it.

I know, neither one of those options is very promising, but in a way their creative missteps on I’d Rather Have You Under The Moon shows us that in spite of their total lack of imagination under normal circumstances there was also nothing about these far more predictable sides to recoil in shock from which makes dealing with songs as uneventful as We’re Supposed To Be Through almost a relief.

It’s got no new theme to delve into, nor does it offer any new arrangement or a new way for Sonny Til to approach the lead vocal, but by now we’re so used to this kind of thing that we might be able to better recognize the almost infinitesimal differences they bring to the table to try and set this one apart.

Either that or we just slap the same mediocre score on it as always and send it down the line without wasting any time.

I Can’t Believe It, Can You?
What makes the regurgitation of each of their stylistic attributes each time out so maddening is that their usual approach was completely dependent on the quality of material to work. In other words despite Sonny Til’s remarkable skill as a lead singer he was utterly hamstrung without stronger melodies and deeper lyrics than they were forced to contend with most of the time.

Unfortunately on We’re Supposed To Be Through we get none of that. The composition itself places Til in the same emotional straitjacket he’s been wearing since his arrival on the scene two years ago, struggling to convince his girlfriend to stick with him… I think.

The perspective this song embodies is interesting, but a little uncertain. It would appear that the twosome is on the brink of breaking up but Sonny is having second thoughts. Their friends aren’t surprised of course and the conflict comes from whether to give in to the prevailing wisdom that they’re not right for one another or if instead they should keep trying to make it work and stay together.

A good premise I suppose, at least one that offers Sonny a bit more hope than usual, but there’s one line in it that turns this on its head when he asks whether they should “put on a show” in order to convince their friends they’re still in love. Wait, didn’t their friends believe they were NOT meant for each other?

I’m not sure whether Til read it wrong or if the songwriter didn’t understand the alternate scenario this presents, but I’m also not sure I care. It’s obvious this couple isn’t going to make the finish line together, so if they break up now or next month or next year even, nothing is going to change. Sonny Til just seems constitutionally unfit for long-term happiness, whether it’s his fault for clinging to the girls and making them uncomfortable with his desperation, or if he’s simply bad in the sack or suffers from the malady of unchecked body odor, his romances have the life expectancy of a mosquito in a bat colony.

If we don’t have any idea of whether this couple is in fact trying to prove skeptics wrong, or whether they’re voluntarily throwing in the towel early in an attempt to beat the betting markets on the over/under for their eventual split, we can’t muster up much sympathy or interest in their fate.

Precious Moments We Shared
In a way though that’s too bad because Til’s performance is again pretty nice, his voice is both technically impressive, holding some of the notes long enough to give you chills, while his investment in the emotional stakes of this romance never wavers.

Particularly winning is how he picks up from George Nelson’s bridge midway through a stanza, making you do a double take for a second as you wonder if Nelson’s nasal baritone has somehow greatly expanded its range, power and lightness of touch before realizing that Til jumped back in.

The others are adding some slightly more prominent backing than in the past, but their parts themselves are still somewhat minimal. They’re being used for ambiance rather than melodic or rhythmic variations and as such the weight of the vocal arrangement falls back on Til. He’s up to the task but as usual it’s too much to ask of him simply because it gives us, the listener, nothing else to focus on and the more he’s required to do, the less impressed we’re apt to be.

The Orioles could have saved time throughout their career by having just a single backing track recorded and recycled for every single record because the scant few musicians being used were offering nothing distinctive each time out. Since the melodies were being carried entirely by Sonny’s vocals and the pace of each song was similar, the arrangements were all but irrelevant making them all sound like duplicates of what you’ve already heard.

Sadly that’s the case with We’re Supposed To Be Through, as once again this leaves it to the piano to sketch out the simple framework and adds just a faintly strummed guitar and the whisper of drums to keep time.

It’s minimalism to the extreme, almost perversely so, and while it might make for a nice change of pace if they’d ever consented to give us something more vigorous, when each record simply doubles down on this kind of light inoffensive fare it can’t help but become tedious.


I Know That You Still Feel The Way I Do
So after eviscerating them for their complete lack of originality, their timid approach to record making and their seeming lack of concern for our patience, this is surely going to be dragged across the coals and discarded with the rest of the burnt out remnants from the bonfire of musical nonentities.


Well, yeah, usually it would be and nobody would give it a second thought. We’re Supposed To Be Through is both unambitious and repetitive, either one of which would be enough to sink it, but getting those in equal measure has to mean it has little chance to make it out of the dreaded red numbers in normal circumstances.

But here’s the thing… we judged their brief flirtation with something slightly different on the top side of this single to be “an abject failure” (as we called it at the beginning of this review) because of how it only gave the surface appearance of innovation thanks to its gimmicky structure.

This on the other hand doesn’t even try to fool us into thinking it’s something new and remarkably it comes across better because of that.

Yes, this is bland and boring as we said earlier, not to mention redundant in theme, arrangement and performance – a veritable trifecta of laziness in the planning stages – but at least this is recognizable and as it allows Sonny Til to emote without having to compete with something jarringly out of place we can tolerate it a little better than we otherwise might. Hardly the most compelling reason to spare it our harshest rebuke, but a reason nonetheless.

So as shocking as this is to say, yesterday’s “experimentation” did wind up with temporary benefits for the group, if only because it made the same ol’ same ol’ being offered today seem almost welcome by comparison.


(Visit the Artist page of The Orioles for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)