This self-released EP includes the best fist-pumping guitar anthems you've never heard.
You might have trouble trying to get a hold of +, the recent effort from the Detachment Kit. While taking a hiatus from French Kiss records -- the home of art-punkers Les Savy Fav -- the band opted to release the EP on their own. So how has the go-it-alone approach worked out? Well, the release is nearly unattainable, as Amazon.com and other major retailers simply don’t have it listed (check Insound). This is unfortunate, not only because + is the band's most polished, well-produced display of their fist-pumping guitar rock, but also because, at 43 minutes, the EP fulfills every conceivable qualification for being a full-length album.
This lengthy EP is surprisingly good -- especially considering that poppy guitar anthems are not necessarily the rage in the indie rock universe right now. The opener, and indelible rock anthem of the year, is "Mr. Dash Dash" -- a song so adorably catchy it’s hard to believe the track has not been included in an Ipod advert (and I mean that in the best possible way). The selection bears an unavoidable comparison with another power-pop classic from the past couple years: 2004’s "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers. Not only do both songs reference a fictitious character by their courtesy title, but it is also true that Messrs. "Dash Dash" and "Brightside" offer an eerily similar array of cascading guitars and sing-a-long lyrics.
The unintentional swagger of "Mr. Dash Dash" spills over into the rest of the EP. On the poppy, upbeat "Finale", lead singer Ian Menard declaratively shouts about "great feelings" and being in control of a relationship. "I’ve got you wrapped around my finger", he cheerily sings to colliding guitars. Then "Heavenly Escort" begins with a methodical riff that slowly crescendos into a gang-vocal-inflicted, fist-pumping chorus. The succeeding selections don’t give us many surprises, but provide a steady flow of quality rock tunes. The clean strums and falsetto croons of "High School" fulfill the required sentimental tendencies, while the jocular punk riffs on "NYC" provide some juvenile exuberance.
The EP does slow down a bit toward the end -- with the lazy math rock of "Caught on Fire" and the endless "Brunch at Knevils" -- but by this time you’ve already gotten more than your money’s worth out of the band. "Hell Machine" and "Communication" offer a bevy of chaotic riffs and screamo vocals; but the songs sound more like outtakes compared to the polished nature of the first half of the EP. My guess is that the band’s next full-length will include 2 or 3 tracks from the front end of this effort -- the stuff is just too good to leave relegated to this poorly circulated EP.
The fact that + is so hard to find makes it one of the most overlooked releases of 2006 -- so overlooked, in fact, that I didn’t know it existed until early ‘07. Given the raw quality of their 2004 release Of This Blood, the EP is an adequate follow-up to the lauded sophomore album, and should be treated as such. But until these guys get better circulation, and/or a major label deal, good luck trying to find this recent effort.