Talking about the recording of Blame Everyone, Grand Theft Audio vocalist Jay Butler says: “We didn’t want to make an album that makes people say ‘Oh, that’s alright’. We wanted to make a record that either completely inspires people, or makes them never want to hear it again”. Unfortunately, the London-based group’s debut album hasn’t quite turned out that way; it never really manages to be anything more than just “alright”. And while Blame Everyone occupies that bland middle ground—the province of the dreaded “alright”—it teeters perilously close to the negative end of the critical spectrum described by Butler.
For the most part, Blame Everyone is a formulaic affair. The bulk of the numbers comprise largely unvaried arrangements of the same core elements: metallic guitar riffs and occasional pyrotechnics, weighty techno and hip-hop beats, samples, a bit of rap, a dose of punk attitude, and big, one-man-crowd vocals that make instant anthems of most tracks.
Paradigmatic of Grand Theft Audio’s approach on Blame Everyone are the pounding, football-terrace sing-along “Death to the Infidels” and the driving “We Luv U”. Along with the raucous “Stoopid Ass”, “We Luv U” will no doubt be familiar to filmgoers as soundtrack material from that recent landmark in contemporary American art cinema, Dude, Where’s My Car?
As well as being rather samey, Blame Everyone is often curiously anachronistic, suggesting a re-treading of the ground well-covered by the likes of Jesus Jones, the Soup Dragons, and EMF. But then, such similarities aren’t surprising given that Grand Theft Audio’s line-up includes bassist/keyboard player Ralph Jezzard, who produced EMF and apparently co-wrote the group’s monumental flash in the pan, “Unbelievable”. (Grand Theft Audio also features ex-Wildhearts drummer Ritch Battersby and former 3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack.)
Although its ‘90s electro-rock groove might be somewhat dated, Grand Theft Audio’s beats are bigger than those of its forebears and its guitar assault is considerably more aggressive, albeit with some barely concealed sources. While “Rock the House” boasts licks reminiscent of “Back in Black”, “Wake Up” has a Steve Jones/Pistols feel about it, especially around the choruses, and “As Good as it Gets” nods at Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. “As Good as it Gets” is the pick of the album’s anthemic cuts, benefiting particularly from its foregrounded female vocals; despite being of the cliched dance-rock-euphoria variety, they add an extra dimension to the band’s flat, repetitive pattern.
The only true highlight here is “Grey, Black and White”. Grand Theft Audio obviously care little for subtlety, yet this track is surprisingly understated and stands in pleasant contrast to the cartoonish bombast that’s rife elsewhere.
Grand Theft Audio’s mixture of metal, techno, and punk may be unimaginative and safe, but that makes Blame Everyone ideal frat-party fodder: mildly enjoyable, vaguely infectious, and wholly mindless.
// Notes from the Road
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