I have good news for the guys in Rooney and Hot Hot Heat: you’ll have plenty of free time on your hands these next few months, as Seattle’s the Lashes have taken the liberty of recording your new albums for you. Be sure to send them a thank-you card from the beach. I’m only half-joking. Get It, the Lashes’ full-length debut, sounds exactly like the aforementioned bands. (Maybe instead of thank-you notes, those bands should be sending cease-and-desist letters.) And while plenty of bands sound like plenty of other bands — hell, a good chunk of CD reviewing is merely pointing that out — what’s most distressing is that, as a result, the Lashes have no personality of their own.
One minor aside: A buddy of mine teased me earlier this summer during a trip to the beach when I popped in Rooney’s self-titled debut for a little driving music. “What is this? Inoffensive pop rock mix #1?” he cracked. My friend has a point, and it extends to the Lashes: the music cranked out by these acts is sunny, hooky and instantly disposable pop that works best when used as, well, driving music en route to the beach. Granted, this is not a crime, but it’s hard to get too eager about such ephemeral music.
Every track on Get It — with the exception of the mid-tempo, string-section aided “Dear Hollywood” — is upbeat and interchangeable-with-every-other-track-on-the-disc power pop, from the jangly single “Sometimes the Sun”, the New Wavy flourishes of “The World Needs More Love Letters”, and the bouncy keyboards of “Nate’s Song”. Trying to differentiate between these songs is like trying to pinpoint the differences between brands of toothbrushes — they all do about the same thing, with very little variation. I mentioned that there are no actual crimes against music on Get It, but the Lashes are guilty of playing it too safe.
And while maybe bright guitars, big hooks, and memorable choruses may lend themselves to enjoyable disposo-pop — don’t get me wrong, the tunes on Get It are enjoyable, if quickly forgotten — it doesn’t always have to be that way. Looking back through the annals of music, Cheap Trick’s early albums are still classics; the first two Weezer albums and even Hot Hot Heat’s breakthrough Make Up the Breakdown have their adherents. (Of course, 2005 releases from both of those acts have shown that they’ve taken a step back and are playing it too safe as well. Look at HHH’s devolution from the indie, unpredictable Breakdown to the newer, major-label-satisfying Elevator.)
But back to the Lashes, who, it must be noted, are also on a major label, Columbia. There’s nothing to hate on Get It, though I’m miffed that they nicked a song title from the Magnetic Fields (“A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody”), and even more miffed that they couldn’t be bothered to come up with any similes to rival Stephin Merritt’s, creating only “A pretty girl is like a melody / It hits you when you’re awake / It hits you when you’re asleep”. And unless frontman Ben Clark is singing about an abusive girlfriend, the simile doesn’t even make sense. There’s also nothing to love on the album, either; there’s plenty of precision on Get It, but not enough passion. I’ll listen to the album the next time I go to the beach, but where I live beach season is nine months away.