"Rock for the Geeks" is how The Squish are presented on their website. Snowglobe Records proclaims that Still So Sweet is the "hotly anticipated release from The Squish". Groovy. I wish I knew who they were, so I could have anticipated this one with drool running down my chin as much as the next guy. So this is geek rock? Yes, apparently in the same vein of Weezer and The Rentals, although I would say more Weezer. Just because you have a Moog (much like a lot of indie popsters these days) doesn't mean you're necessarily in The Rentals category. But then again, I wonder why you'd want to be. Matt Sharp's band has had some good tunes and all, but nothing of the caliber that his former bandmate Rivers Cuomo has dished out.
On album, The Squish are Kristopher Rushton, playing just about everything. The bass work is handled by Skitch Anderson, and the drums on one track ("And the Afternoon") are done up by Dan Sia. However, on the website, The Squish now apparently feature Chris Pardy on bass, Dan Sia still on the drums, and Pam Leavitt on the Moog/JP-8000. I'm sure this probably makes little difference to most of you, but we might as well keep as up to date as possible.
How about that music, then? Well, I have to say that the song "You Once Said" is top contender for any sort of "single" on this disc. It's the tune that does the Weezer/Rentals thing the best with the kind of melancholy vocals Rivers Cuomo is known for combined with the cheesy Moog work The Rentals excelled at on their first album. And with such goofy lyrics as "Forward stream, what'd you mean? / How it seems, forward stream and I can't control", go ahead and give these kids that Geek Rock Badge of Quality.
Of course, that notion could only be furthered in the track entitled "Liv Tyler". And nowhere on the album does The Squish sound more like Weezer than right here. In fact, you might as well say that Kris Rushton ripped off everything on the blue album and turned it into his own thing here. The rhythm is "Buddy Holly" (so is the sentiment), the execution is "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here", and the yearning is a bit "Say It Ain't So" thrown in for good measure. You could undoubtedly throw this song on and fool all your Weezer-loving friends and convince them that it was some rare b-side.
Those two songs are the most blatantly ripped-off tunes on the disc. Not that that's bad at all. Both songs are a lot of fun to listen to and are the cream of the crop on Still So Sweet. The Squish actually hit an excellent original sound on the song "Stay Awhile" that manages to actually bust through the sweetness and rock it up quite well. Sounding desperate and frustrated, Kris Rushton pushes the tune to a tightly twisted climax that is more satisfying than his soundalike songs.
The sad "Rain Chaser" feels a lot like the Cure via Seventeen Seconds and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. The group then does its strictly Rentals turn on "And the Afternoon", complete with compressed-sounding drums and that silly Moog. It's actually scary to hear how well Rushton is at emulating his heroes. The Weezer-sounding tunes have all the freshness and energy that comes with that band's work, while "And the Afternoon" sounds cool, but is ultimately flat by the end of the song. Give the guy some major points for doing his homework.
There's also an intro and "The Ending" that work as the bookended pieces they're supposed to be, and another original sounding track, "Angel" that goes on a bit too long and isn't as good as "Stay Awhile". But I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Still So Sweet despite its lack of originality. Weezer fans will definitely find a whole lot to enjoy on this brief outing that's touted as an EP, but may just as well be regarded as a satisfying album as well. Even the slower parts have their good moments. Next time around I probably will be hotly anticipating this band's next release. Still So Sweet is pretty damn tasty.