[28 July 2011]
There’s a fine line between being brilliantly shambolic and just being noisy, messy, and, in short, annoying. Australia’s The UV Race crosses that line on Homo, the outfit’s sophomore effort. Where does it go wrong? Perhaps in the first limpid moments of the opening “Girl In My Head” in which the band heaps virtually every garage rock cliché onto one tiny number and then repeats said clichés ad nauseum. It’s like having a petulant child babble a single phrase in your ear for five hours although the track clocks in at just short of three minutes.
The following track, “Burn The Cat”, is no better—arguably the longest two minutes and one second you’ll spend all summer if not in your entire life. When these cats run out of garage rock fall-backs they reach, inexplicably, for a honking, squanking saxophone that doesn’t add much to the track, aside from a minor distraction from the amateurish antics contained within. “Lost My Way” offers something in the way of a reprieve from this foolishness, coming across—albeit for an all-too-brief moment—like something worthy of an Ian Dury toss-off. But it’s not to be. This song, too, stutters and stammers its way to a long-awaited conclusion before giving way to the painfully long “Inner North”. If these guys can make two minutes seem like an eternity, imagine what they can do with four minutes.
The mildly amusing “Nazicistic” sounds like Lou Reed drooling on his desk after having fallen asleep at Slacker High. Not even the mildly clever title and idea behind the track can save the painfully lackadaisical remaining moments of the song. Midway through the album, it becomes somewhat of a game for the listener, trying to isolate the few moments that do work and seeing if one can compile enough bits and bobs to arrive at a single decent track, like counting the number of times you glance at your watch during a truly dreadful movie. “Down Your Street” doesn’t help the Aussie outfit win its case. It’s the sound of a group of guys not even trying. Walking down the street with a heart skipping a beat? Puh-leaze.
Still, there’s time for surprise: latecomer “Low” is a half decent b-side that once more redefines torpor. At two minutes it’s about a minute too long, a decent idea stretched to its maximum. Finally, the coup de grace, the limpid one-two slap of “Always Late” (a song about, as the album’s painful—and painfully detailed—liner notes reveal, someone who has a chronic problem with punctuality) and the title track (about homosapiens and how great it is to be one). Shock! Awe!
What The UV Race and so many wannabe garage rock acts don’t seem to realize is that the garage rock greats of yesteryear were never deliberately half-assed. Some simply lacked the wherewithal to write quality material and became two-minute heroes despite this. That’s not something you can force and when you do, you sound awfully daft, pretentious, and pitiful. Those acts are often lost to the ages for a reason and it’s not because the audience wasn’t smart enough to get the joke.
Nay, it might be better for this outfit to actually try and come out with a really fantastic EP than, say, a seriously flawed full-length that does little else other than convince the listener of the band’s obvious sub-mediocrity.