“Everything Is Average Nowadays” – Killing (And Maiming) Your Indie Idols

The above title references an unintentionally average song by the Kaiser Chiefs and perfectly summarizes the following indie observations about the following indie albums:

Kaiser Chiefs
Your Truly, Angry Mob
UMVD Labels
Released: 3.27.2007

Rating: 5 out of 10



The Kaiser Chiefs, displaying their own overwrought brand of epic new wave extremism, (see Bloc Party), hit occasionally and miss more often with Yours Truly, Angry Mob. The Chiefs work capably, taking template after template and applying them to every song like a paint-by-numbers. The opening track, “Ruby,” provides a decent enough lead into the album before “Angry Mob,” trying to take it up a notch, fails to really make any impression about the so-called crowd of malcontents that are addressing themselves as if they’re anything special. “My Kind Of Guy,” which at least shows some kind of head for creative songwriting, and piano-to-rockabilly, “Learnt My Lesson Well,” both try and improve the monotony of the album but ultimately fail to supply any passion. Yours Truly, Angry Mob feels more like an exercise: a “how-to” with Brit Rock For Dummies adorning its hard-cover.

Andrew Bird
Armchair Apocrypha
Fat Possum
Released: 3.20.07

Rating 5.75 out of 10



Andrew Bird is indie’s Christopher Cross. Bird may have a leg-up in the lyrics department, but Armchair Apocrypha is the perfect candidate for soft-rock rotation that’ll keep its admirers’ ears sated as they inevitably careen with their 40s. With the inclusion of “Imitosis” and “Simple X,” Bird manages to avoid being completely dull but, for the most part, album closer, “Yawny at the Apocolypse,” says it all.

Modest Mouse
We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Sony
Released: 3.20.07

Rating 6.75 out of 10



Probably one of the hardest working bands in Indiebiz, Modest Mouse’s fifth album, and first with Smiths-alum Johnny Marr, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank hits a lot of high points but suffers severely in instances where the energy wanes. The pronounced strike of “March Into The Sea” and the gloomy seasickness of “Parting With The Sensory” are engaging while filler tracks like “Fire It Up” and Duran Duran-wannabe “We’ve Got Everything” fall flat. At times sounding like students of Eno, (Talking Heads rhythm-lines and Bowie inflections), Modest Mouse have no lack of ingenuity but don’t function well when they lighten things up. “Steam Engenius” kicks ass.

Peter, Björn & John
Writer’s Block
Almost Gold
Released: 2.6.07

Rating 7 out of 10



Writer’s Block, latest album by Swedish trio, Peter, Björn & John, could very well be an ode to the whistle. Presented amongst maracas, sporadic drum machine-percussion and a singing voice that could only exist under constant nut-kicking duress, PB&J do for the whistle what E.E. Cummings did for the lowercase alphabet: they turn it into something distinct. This is most notable in their very popular single, “Young Folks,” and beat-popper “Amsterdam.” Overall, the album is catchy as hell, though it doesn’t stand up to repeat listening. I’ll admit though that I overdosed on Writer’s Block to come to that conclusion. Vocally, PB&J do prove to be over-bearing, especially with the sentimental “Paris 2004,” acoustic rut “Roll The Credits” and the somewhat annoying “Poor Cow.” It’s worth checking out just don’t overdo it.

Interpol
Our Love To Admire
Capitol
Released: 7.10.07

Rating 7.25 out of 10



There is something genuinely striking about Interpol’s Our Love To Admire, though at times it comes off like it follows a template. Though initially entranced by the somber tone of “Pioneer To The Falls,” that sort of faded when “Pace Is The Trick,” 5 songs later, seemed to carry the same structure. That’s not to say that Interpol overtly rip themselves off song after song, but there aren’t many elements that make their songs stand apart. For one, lead vocalist Paul Banks is like a singing Kevin Costner, refusing to really emote though he does turn that to his advantage at points. It is rather amusing to hear a guy be so seemingly unexcited about proposing ménage a trois like he does in “There’s No I In Threesome.” He also makes that work in “Rest My Chemistry,” probably the best song in the album. It falters however in “All Fired Up” where Banks’s refrain of ”I’ll take you on/I’ll take you on” rings with zombie-like complacency. Not buying it.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead
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