Culture Envy: The Sylvia Platters

Their new EP Youth Without Virtue was released June 24

The Sylvia Platters from left to right: Stephen Carl O'Shea, Alex Kerc-Murchison, Nick Ubels, and Tim Ubels. (Submitted/Megan Lambert)

The Sylvia Platters from left to right: Stephen Carl O’Shea, Alex Kerc-Murchison, Nick Ubels, and Tim Ubels. (Submitted/Megan Lambert)

If you are like me, you are a godless heathen — sacreligious in almost every sense of the word. I have been to various churches and temples and respected the practices, hummed the hymns, crushed on the youth pastor, and was obsessed with Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.

But when the doors of the chapel swung closed behind me on a Sunday afternoon, I left God on the other side of them. It was easy for me to leave because going to church was like having lunch with your least favorite aunt, or was just something family does around the holidays even though no one really wants to be there. 

For the members of The Sylvia Platters, like many others, this was not the case. The pressures of various forms of religion, in this case the Evangelical Church, can be overwhelming to live within and even more daunting to leave behind.

Youth Without Virtue is the sound of shattered illusions. Of finally letting go of a complicated past where fear and shame reign,” reads their press kit sent in an email to The Runner

And while I maybe can’t relate directly to these specific pressures, I think we have all experienced a loss of faith in one way or another. Whether that be a loss of faith in government structures, loss of faith in our upbringing, or losing faith in the person we have thought ourselves to be. 

Youth Without Virtue explores this very notion, using surprisingly uplifting jangle pop to convey a certain sense of hopefulness for what’s to come, without shying away from the melancholy nature of the material.

The title track features the very literary lyric “every benediction is a chord without conviction.”

“It’s like a sense of disillusionment mashed with a competing sense of duty,” says Nick Ubels, vocalist and guitarist of The Sylvia Platters. 

“I particularly think about being a teenager in those kinds of contexts and all the different pressures you might feel to fulfill a certain role, even when it doesn’t really resonate for you anymore… And so I think that line is kind of like a microcosm of those things which really shines through”

English majors Tim Ubels, vocalist and drummer, and Nick, vocalist and guitarist, have been playing music together since they first learned to play an instrument. They formed The Sylvia Platters in 2014, named after the novelist and poet Sylvia Plath. Since then, the lineup has gone through few changes, but has settled on Alex Kerc-Murchison for guitar and Stephen Carl O’Shea for bass.

This EP also features backup vocals from Keeley Rochon, was mastered by Greg Mindorff of Suite Sound Labs, and was recorded/produced by Jordan Koop at The Noise Floor.

On June 24, the EP was released on streaming platforms and the band had a release show the following night at Red Gate on Main Street alongside AC-PDF, Primp, and Lowercase Dream.

Interestingly, the show featured three performers who at one time or another worked for this very publication, The Runner. Alyssa Laube, former Editor-In-Chief was the guitarist and a vocalist of Primp; Kier Junos, former Editor-In-Chief from Lowercase Dream, and yours truly the current arts & humour editor as the bassist of Primp and all around bad b*tch.

The Sylvia Platters don’t have any more announced event dates in Vancouver at the moment, but they are playing shows in Alberta and on the islands in the upcoming months and plan to return soon.  

“Stay tuned for more,” says Nick. “We’re really eager to kind of get back out there and hang out with people and play music, and not just in a room with the four of us.”