Not an unqualified victory but a pretty damn good introduction to this powerful hook-conscious trio.
Do not confuse this California trio for the Miami, Fla.-based quartet Torche that has delivered the brilliant Harmonicraft this very year and gone about taking the nation by storm. Torches is a more pop-oriented group, buoyed by tunes you might do the twist to, like a shoegaze band on pep pills or trying to impress that special someone by going all high-energy. (Witness “Out Of The Desert” and “I Want Something”.) In truth, many of the band’s three and four minute songs could be wound down to about two-three minutes each as the outfit tends to find a hook, beat it into the ground, then beat it into the ground again. And then again. You get the picture.
Still, “Dead Face” impresses with its chiming guitar figures (courtesy the imaginative Azad Cheikosman) and drums that call to mind early Simple Minds, Icicle Works, and the like. (Read: It’s fantastic.) “Lion’s Den” cuts through one's ears as does a machete through paper and “Silver Haired Girl” may have those aforementioned hook-pounding tendencies but day-um is it good.
Not the absolute best album of 2012 –– not really even in this writer’s top 50 –– but an impressive one, despite those hook-pounding quirks, that suggests this lot has a lot to offer and, come the next one, we’re all gonna sit up a little straighter once Torches comes into town.
Now, about that name?