[10 October 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Adrienne Verhoeven (formerly of the Anniversary) and Alex de Landa (Papercuts, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone) show an unabashed love for Jamaican music with their new project, Extra Classic. The band itself is named after a Gregory Isaacs album, and they employed an all-analog recording process to make their album, using vintage equipment from the ‘60s and ‘70s. It turns out that they not only have a love for this stuff, but an uncanny knack for reproducing dub and reggae sounds on Your Light Like White Lightning, Your Light Like a Laser Beam. The bass lines run all over the spacious, chugging beats, and guitars and keys echo with a dubbed-out otherworldly quality. These are dance jams for the astral plane. “Congo Rebel” is a perfect lead single, with its crunching guitars and Verhoeven’s breathy vocals weaving melodies through them. It goes nicely with the moodier “Creation” to anchor the front half of the record. By record’s end, they step out of those dub sounds and create more straightforward space-pop in “Angel Eyes” and closer “Give Me Your Love”. These work because the songs that are more dub-inspired also sometimes borrow uncomfortably from the subject material in reggae music. References to no one “bringing me down”, to getting high, to the “wicked man” – none of them ring true, and come off as awkward, unnecessary borrowing. Extra Classic pays homage, and shows its own vitality when they build off of Jamaican music, but the band should find subject material a bit closer to home.