[2 April 2001]
Well, here I am ready to pen my review for Buckfast Superbee’s sophomore effort, You Know How The Song Goes and contemplating once again just what the hell has happened to rock music. Where’s the tunes that excite and delight? Will the teen-pop craze ever die down? Was it really necessary to even conceive of O-Town? And can we return to a world where our rock and roll isn’t decided upon a disposable video and the playlists of MTV? Who knows? I still can’t some up with any answers.
But I digress. I’m supposed to be writing this review, so we’ll cut straight to the chase. I really like the first third of Buckfast Superbee’s new album, but… (ah, you knew it was coming) I honestly don’t feel that it’s breaking any new ground. In light of that, it may prove very popular. It’s safe, power-pop-punk that panders to the 18-to-21 crowd who’s looking for a little relief from Britney and Justin. The problem is that it doesn’t bother to go beyond that.
The band excels in jackhammer rhythms. After about the sixth song that features such a beat, you’ll start to get the impression that I do over this album: that it needs just a touch of variation. Vocalist and guitarist TJ seems to favor both Nirvana and Foo Fighters, as his gritty voice often recalls Cobain and his musical chops evoke Grohl. It’s just a bit unfortunate that he allows the band to get stuck in a “Monkey Wrench” type groove over and over again.
But there are some good cuts here that do mix things up. The first four songs do a great job of establishing the group’s sound and attack. I quite like the guitar work in “4 Minutes From Here” and “Better”, and I really love the melodies and overall groove of “Mushman”. “A Song For The Wayward Couple” caps off the basic Buckfast Superbee sound quite nicely. And then the repetition starts to sink in. The melodies seem to slip away in favor of a grinding mechanical rock workout. The stretch of “Pan Handler”, “Fix You”, “First Of A Thousand”, and “Apology In E” create a generic wash that doesn’t leave much of an impression at all. And that’s too bad, because those first four tunes are very good.
The remaining five tracks play it back and forth between the generic rock and the hooks, but it never seems to coalesce solidly. And while “Stop When The Red Lights Flash” and “Feel Like Math” sound somewhat promising in their titles, the performance just doesn’t add up (no pun intended). Indeed, the generic list of band credits (“Kevin” on bass, “Milos” on drums, “Nick” on guitars”, and “TJ” on vocals and guitars) seems to sum up the overall atmosphere of You Know How The Song Goes a bit too well. Yes, I do know how the song goes. I wish I could have heard a few more “new” songs here to make this a stronger listening experience.
Buckfast Superbee has a winning formula in that they indeed have a small cache of good tunes here that could very well make this album a success. And anymore, you only really need one solid song to sell an album (Seriously. Never in the history of rock have I witnessed so much filler coming out on new releases like I have the past few years.). Prior to this release, I had never heard of this band. I get the feeling that I may never hear from them again if You Know How The Song Goes doesn’t pan out. But hey, if that becomes the case you can simply spin your Nirvana and Foo Fighters discs all over again.