[18 May 2008]
Chances are, if you’ve read anything at all about Does It Offend You, Yeah?, you’ll have read some sort of qualitative assessment of that name. And I’m sorry, I’m not going to buck the trend. But it’s with good reason, because it’s likely that without such an exceptionally obnoxious—not to mention crap—moniker and the hot air it’s generated, I likely wouldn’t have heard their debut album and wouldn’t be writing this review, which you wouldn’t be reading. And by that reasoning, it’s not so bad after all; the name has done its job, it’s got them noticed. And that may have been crucial, because the name is probably the most idiosyncratic thing about Does It Offend You, Yeah?, who otherwise merge together two disengaged factions of their record collections to create a something that sounds like, erm…the merging together of two disengaged factions of their record collections, actually.
Well, it’s less merging together, really, than a simple placing side-by-side. Because unlike Klaxons’ Myths for the Near Future, Does It Offend You’s debut isn’t all that successful—in fact, might not even try, for all it sounds—at creating a coherent blend a dance and indie, and consequently You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into is pretty much a 50/50 split of electronic dance numbers and new-ravish indie. “Doomed Now” showcases perhaps the only real attempt to combine the two, but amounts to little more than straightforward indie warped a little by a vocoder.
Not that they’re particularly bad in either field, mind. First single “We Are Rockstars” was an obvious choice, its blatant Daft Punkisms lugged around by a memorable bass-heavy synth line custom-built for dancefloors, where the driving, pummelling rhythm section and fraught vocals of “With a Heavy Heart (I Regret to Inform You)” will most likely follow. “Let’s Make Out”, meanwhile, is perfectly competent bratty dance-rock, though its titular suggestion, repeated ad infinitum for the song’s chorus, carries all the charm of a sex pest and is roughly as irritating.
You Have No Idea fares less well in its ‘indie half’. Not because the songs are worse; “Dawn of the Dead” is pretty decent, while “Epic Last Song”, though hardly what it claims, is a sensible choice for closer given that it boasts probably the album’s most memorable chorus. Instead, the problem is that, here, Does It Offend You are even less distinctive than before: “Being Bad Feels Pretty Good” is a Joy Division cover band (say, Editors) fronted by Robert E. Smith (though kitted out with funk bassist), “Dawn of the Dead”‘s steel drums can’t disguise that fact that it’s Klaxons in lethargy, while “Epic Last Song” is a flagrant Bloc Party rip-off. Even the vocal of “With a Heavy Heart”, an album high-point, reminds of Foals’ Yannis Philippakis and thus highlights the absence of the latter outfit’s clinical instrumental flair in Does It Offend You’s arsenal.
And it’s this that makes You Have No Idea nothing like the album Does It Offend You, Yeah? are probably capable of; which makes it a mildly diverting listen when it could have been a pretty damn good album if its creators had injected wholesale the verve it occasionally displays. It’s fair to say that every song on You Have No Idea sounds different, but every one sounds like someone else, too. When everything is added up, it all falls a little short in every department. You Have No Idea isn’t an album of emotion, but it isn’t the album of attitude its title implies, either. Neither, crucially, does it sound like Does It Offend You, Yeah? are particularly having fun, surely a pre-requisite for dance-rock set of this ilk. Add this to the fact that the album’s better moments (“We Are Rockstars”, “With a Heavy Heart”) are all grounded in impact—a virtue that fades from first exposure—and it’s hard not to view this as a disappointment. Ultimately, for all their ostensible bravado and faux-obnoxiousness, Does It Offend You, Yeah? could do with being a little less inoffensive.