Django Haskins, frontman for the Old Ceremony, has an effortless delivery when he sings. His catchy voice delivers melodies that are catchy and conversational. They never sound forced, and instead settle into the band’s full pop-rock sound. A few times on Walk on Thin Air, particularly on the power pop of “Until My Voice is Gone” and the string-laden rock of “Same Difference”, these admittedly straightforward sounds make something compelling. They may not sound terribly original with their mid-tempo alt-rock, but that is beside the point when they execute their songs well.
Trouble is, they don’t execute them well that often on this album. With Haskins knack for melody and the band’s sturdy rock sound, this should be much better than it is. The main problem is Haskins’ inability to break from the role of charming lead singer. He croons on these songs, and he does have a good voice, but its got a bravado to it that he never lets go. This becomes problematic when he tries to be confessional, which he does often on the record. Tales of solitude, like “By Any Other Name” ring false. Songs of dissolving relationships rest on trite and melodramatic images, like on “Plate Tectonics”, making his sentiments sound less heartfelt. And when he tries self-deprecation on “Stubborn Man”, he still sound proud and when refers to someone as “baby” it comes off as condescending. The fact is that Walk on Thin Air stumbles like this a lot. It goes for emotions Haskins seems unwilling to really delve into. He’s playing the role of sensitive songwriter on a lot of these, and that just isn’t enough to make this kind of middle-of-the-road rock stand out.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
// Notes from the Road
"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.READ the article