SingPins dazzle in debut album



Cecilia Mitchell reviews “SingPins A Capella,” the first release from UNI’s auditioned a capella ensemble.


“SingPins A Cappella” is the first album released by UNI campus organization SingPins, a small auditioned ensemble within the Varsity Men’s Glee Club. The record includes 10 tracks, both live performances and studio recordings, amassed between the years 2017 and 2019. I found this album to be an instant classic. It’s exactly the kind of record you want to have in your collection to sing along with during road trips, or to spin when you’re feeling nostalgic about your college days in the years to come.

The first track is an a cappella arrangement of the lively Billy Joel classic, “For the Longest Time.” It’s hard to go wrong with such a standard a capella song choice, and the SingPins did the classic piece justice. “Alleluia,” the next piece, features beautiful, precise harmonies within a familiar sacred text.

A fun arrangement of “Death of a Bachelor,” the 2015 hit from Panic! at the Disco, comes third in the setlist. The piece has a dignified beginning and gets progressively more vibrant throughout. The next song is a live cover of Irish-American folk rock band The Elders’ 2003 track, “Men of Erin.” I was especially impressed with this piece; the SingPins exhibited superb tone quality and dynamic control.

The fifth song on “SingPins A Cappella” was made famous by the 2012 hit movie, “Pitch Perfect.” “Bright Lights, Bigger City/Magic” was the arrangement sung by The Treblemakers, the fictional male a cappella group in their finale performance. A mash-up cover of CeeLo Green’s and Bruno Mars’ respective songs, this track is somewhat overdone, but I have no complaints regarding the SingPins’ performance. Their rendition is upbeat and the singers seem invested in their delivery.

A live recording of the traditional Scottish melody “Loch Lomond” comes next in the setlist. While the SingPins’ rendition is beautiful, I noticed that there was some unflattering variation in the vowel delivery in this piece. “Loch Lomond” is one of my favorite folk songs, and I whole-heartedly believe it should be performed in a Scottish accent. It sounds like some SingPins members delivered the piece that way and some did not, making the tone quality sound off. There are also some discrepancies in their onsets and offsets.

The seventh song on the album is an arrangement of Jon Bellion’s 2016 hit “All Time Low.” This cover is very well-executed; the dynamic contrast adds interest and they hit the repetitive consonants accurately. What could have been a muddled, hard-to-understand rendition is crisp and clear and I was impressed by the SingPins’ take on contemporary pop music.

Next, the SingPins gave their rendition of the romantic Elvis Presley classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Their slow, methodical version features complex, haunting harmonies. The arrangement they chose takes some unusual turns with the familiar piece, and I appreciated the unexpected in this track.

The 1980 song “Seven Bridges Road” by Eagles is the ninth number on the record. A live version backed by a guitar, this track is the only accompanied piece on the album, which I found very fitting for the classic rock standard. This song is a rousing, Americana tune enjoyable for listeners of any demographic.

The SingPins close their debut album with a cover of the infamous Blue Swede track, “Hooked on a Feeling.” I found the beginning unexpectedly fast, but the classic cover gained appeal as it continued. The variation in dynamics and complexity throughout the piece added interest, but the singers did not sound as emotionally invested in this song as they did in others.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album, and as a soon-to-be UNI alum, I think it’s a must-buy in the name of Panther Pride and the enjoyment of musical expertise. I am impressed by the clever craft of the setlist; “SingPins A Cappella” features a wide variety of genres in a song order that flows effortlessly. The SingPins’ vocal performance is technically excellent. There are very few notable or even noticeable errors in this record. The UNI community should be very proud to have a group as talented as the SingPins on campus.