Don’t run because of the name of this band. I am sure there is a humorous anecdote about it, so let’s stick to the music. I really liked this wall of guitars/melody tempest of an album right from the first track, “The Gift.”
When I listen to a CD, I visualize the singer as I listen to the melody. I don’t know about you, but I can always separate the testoterone and ego-pumped Eddie Vedders from the more sincere, heartfelt ones seeking answers to uncertain issues facing the rest of us.
On the next to last track “Warriorette,” I could hear and see Finnish lead singer Jaaklo Soderstrom sing these lines:
She was totally into Slayer
And it made me see her differently
I kinda wanted to start to date her
But she’d hate this pop eternally
“Kinda Wanted…” Practical. Humble. Sincere. None of this: “I saw you, I want you, you looked at me, and I am a Rock God, and you will come with me.” Jaaklo is honest with himself: he doesn’t stand a chance against his buddy Anders with the hair extensions and the killer import collection of Accept and Anthrax CDs. Just forget about it.
This is a melodic pop group with the goods to be able honest with themselves. They are honest with you here, refraining from rock posturing, delivering pop rock nuggets over the course of the recording.
The closest reference I can come to with BD is Teenage FanClub if fronted by Neil Young. The singer is unique: his vibrato is a little frail and trails off, giving drama and sincerity to the lines.
The production here is noteworthy. Australia’s Michael Carpenter, an artist on Not Lame (see review of Baby in the PopMatters archive) does an impeccable job here. The guitars have distinct sounds within the sonic spectrum. There are many different tracks of guitars, and through Carpenter’s careful panning and eq settings, none of the tracks step on each other, creating a cavernous aural perspective. Carpenter is a true talent. If there any major labels out there looking for new producer options out there, he may be the finest independent inexpensive producer in the world.
I could go track by track and comment on the beautiful slide guitar on “Reality Checks,” the Velvet Underground feel of “How Cute Is This?” or the Bettie Serveert vibe of “Steadybear,” but who wants to hear trite comparisons. ;-)
This is a real underground sleeper from the hotbed of great music in Finland, Norway and Sweden. If there are Teenage FanClub fans out there, buy this. It has an overall feel close to the classic Bandwagonesque by TFC, and that is saying a ton.