One way to immediately grab a listener’s attention with a rock single is by incorporating the iconic sound of a saxophone. You’ve got to look no further than “Careless Whisper,” but some other knockout hits include “Edge of Glory,” “Who Can It Be Now?,” and “Modern Love,” just to name a very select few. Putting the woodwind into your song requires immense confidence and nearly unheard-of levels of musical prowess, but if you pull it off, there’s almost certainly always “hit song potential” waiting in the wings. For The Netherlands’ rock ensemble The Mark, their latest single “Wondrous” is one of the latest to test the saxophone theory, and in this music critic’s humble opinion, it passes the sax test with flying colors.
“Wondrous” is not a great song because of or despite its use of saxophone, and though some listeners seem to live or die by the ironic use of a saxophone, there’s not an ironic bone in my body — “Wondrous” is simply a great, epic rock track that uses saxophone as a shade of paint within its palette, not as a place setting or core vehicle. Sure, the saxophone carries the song’s chorus with the help of lead singer Mark Schraven’s falsetto vocals, but there’s much more at play to digest within “Wondrous.” See the impeccable balancing act that comes with crafting a modern rock track with electronic and progressive rock undertones, for instance. Maybe the highly-trained vocals from Schraven are more of an interest? There’s undoubtedly something for everyone to gain out of “Wondrous.”
Other additions from “Wondrous” include brilliant guitar, bass, and drums; Kenny Aronoff resides on drums, James LoMenzo resides on bass, and Schraven himself helms guitar and vocal duties. On the aforementioned saxophone, Hanneke Coolen-Colsters gives her all and remains a steadfast highlight. Tom Zegelink is present with his brilliant piano flourishes, and Paul Cattenstart does great work with the synthesizers, giving “Wondrous” an intricately layered and detailed musical makeup. The impeccable musical performances keep the song afloat with ease, and the overall presentation from The Mark is one that unabashedly opens its heart, almost as if to say “Here we are, take us or leave us.” The bravado in the single’s unashamed and hyper-confident mesh of genres and themes is unlike anything most bands get the chance to make, but The Mark has made it now, they’ve made it before, and there’s no doubt they’ll make it again.
Schraven and his merry band of extremely talented musicians exude a comfortability that most bags spend years trying to perfect; the acquaintance has been made, and the band isn’t concerned with overstaying their welcome. They know their talent is immense and act accordingly; all of this comes together to quite possibly allow room for “Wondrous” in at least the conversation for “Great Saxophone-Centric Tracks For the 21st Century,” but the competition is mostly yet to be seen. The Mark have proven time and time again that they are one of modern rock’s defining independent acts, and it would seem as though they’re finally getting some well-deserved attention for everything.
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