Seth Engel makes melancholy sound sweet with his power-pop project, Options | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Seth Engel makes melancholy sound sweet with his power-pop project, Options 

click to enlarge Seth Engel

Seth Engel

Vanessa Valadez

Chicago punk multi-instrumentalist Seth Engel can deliver a sweet, melancholy riff so gracefully that you’d think he lives inside the guitar chords from Jawbreaker’s Dear You. Engel, who records solo material under the name Options, is a busy young man about town. He drums with mathy progressive trio Pyramid Scheme as well as heavy indie-rockers Great Deceivers, and he’s a member of several groups that are on pause, including Lifted Bells and Anthony Fremont’s Garden Solutions. He also gets called up to play auxiliary roles on album sessions by local emo and punk acts; his recent credits include Retirement Party and Nature’s Neighbor. On the other side of the board, he’s a studio wiz who engineers, mixes, and masters music for a laundry list of Chicago DIY artists at his Bridgeport headquarters, Pallet Sound. Since debuting Options with 2014’s What You Want, Engel has been cranking out emo-laden rock songs whose clean power-pop hooks bind together joy and woe, and he pulls it off with surgical precision. Options’ sixth album, Wind’s Gonna Blow, continues this strange, intoxicating balance of blissful euphoria and vague gloom. On “Blue,” Engel transforms mundane sadness into an existential wound, oozing with fuzzy riffs and sullen singing, and cauterizes it with sharp guitar stabs and drum bursts—the music makes it feel possible to heal even when everyday grief won’t stop.   v

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