Project K’s Testing Underway is fun, but that’s about all it is. With sarcastic vocals and laid-back instrumentation, Project K sounds less like a band than a group of friends playing around. It provides for entertaining music, but it has little depth to sustain it. Testing Underway is entirely enjoyable with its lightheartedness, but this music lacks anything to weigh it down. As fun it may be, there’s no substance here, and despite their best efforts, that’s where Project K fails.
Most of the charm of Project K lies in lead singer Greg K.‘s vocal style. His voice is filled with cynicism, but it mostly seems to be a pose, which makes it hard to tell when to take him seriously. Strangely, though, a certain earnestness sneaks through in his voice, especially when he’s accompanied by bass player Io Perry, making Testing Underway interesting to listen to, if it’s just for the band’s vocal delivery.
The uncomplicated guitar work and spirited drums, while both well done, provide little originality. It would go too far to say they’re generic, but at the same time, they seem like mostly a backdrop for the vocals. There is a definite coolness to Project K’s sound, but it’s one that’s just on the surface. The lyrics seem to hover somewhere between being absurd and being insightful. On “Idie’s Party”, the list of images presented includes “yellow jackets” that “love the honey on the barbeque” as well as “a carpet stuffed with mentos and cigarette butts”. The most literal of all the songs, “Lullaby”, has Perry singing thoughtful lines like “tuck me in and let me go”. Project K’s lyrics are different and distinctive, and often sustain the songs when little else does.
Testing Underway is a quick and carefree listen, but there’s not much to it. While Project K’s sense of fun keeps their album going, it doesn’t make enough of a lasting impression. It’s cute music from a frothy rock band, which is fine in itself, but it’s ultimately unsatisfying. It will leave you wanting more, but unfortunately, just not from them.