[10 July 2005]
Man, do I hate Jet. While reading the one sheet on this Manchester four piece I couldn’t help (for one reason or another) being reminded of the aforementioned group’s crimes against the music world. Perhaps it’s the AC/DC personifications, or the boastfulness in all the thirsting for indie “cred”. Whatever it was, it did not bode well for our heroes. Though they are already being hailed as the saviors of rock music (which is, like, the hundredth time someone has saved such a thing?) you won’t find much heroism on Nine Black Alps self-titled, five-track debut US EP. It’s all in the delivery, which is, sorry to say, ranging from piss-poor to passable fluff.
Lead singer, Sam Forrest tries his hardest for Mick Jagger, but tends to only come off as a poor man’s Bon Scott. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the production would put the more raucous rhythm section at the forefront instead of utilizing old school methodology of tin can recordings to create some sort of vintage sound or persona. It severely takes away from any kick that the EP might have by undermining the more obviously promising elements for the sake of a “scenester”-like semblance of retro-cool.
Playing off each other in a most admirable way, Forrest and co-guitarist David Jones attempt to create a rather cohesive and functional wall of sound that, unfortunately, (much like a shark) seems to only die a little when it slows down. Perhaps they feel that it’s best to inundate themselves with an unrelenting arsenal of calculated noise and fuzz to propel their most dubious identity as rockers with a purpose, as opposed to their more accurately categorized tired and formulaic existence that all the swirling scuttlebutt surrounding the group would have you ignore.
Rather surprisingly, Nine Black Alps (which takes it’s name from a Sylvia Plath poem) finds its strongest component in lyrical content. Some of the more potent passages can be weighed down by the all too familiar delivery, as well as the inherent camp value in its melodramatic style. However, there is an irony to it all in that most garage rockers can’t form lyrical splendor as cogent as this, but almost all of them are better than Nine Black Alps anyway. Clearly though, there is something to be said about the social commentary on a track like the EP’s opener, “Cosmopolitan” or the depression-inducing rocker, “Shot Down”. The sad thing about this EP is that any redeeming qualities are usually proven to be ultimately useless in regards to the final work.
Perhaps in more capable production hands Nine Black Alps can still live up to the hype. There are some compelling elements at work within this group, and it would be a thrill to see them used to form a promising rock band. I could make some sort of Play-Doh metaphor right about now, I am sure, but I think it would be more fitting just to leave you and the gentlemen in Nine Black Alps with this thought: Jet sucks.