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The Perishers – Victorious

Such is the case with Victorious, the latest full-length from Umea, Sweden’s The Perishers, which while immaculate in its construction and execution, lacks a certain joie de vivre

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Frequent musical and cultural sage Frank Zappa once said, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” No more does that truth appear evident when one is faced with the prospect of pontificating on something that inspires nothing. There is little that taunts a music writer quite like an album for which he or she has neither decided affection nor venom. A creation so seemingly unconvinced of its own existence, but at the same time wholly competent and sporadically compelling, that the minor negative and minor positive seem to cancel each other out. It’s a strangely off-putting dichotomy, though that dissolves quickly when it becomes apparent that it’s hard to be truly pissed with something so starry-eyed and harmless. 

Such is the case with Victorious, the latest full-length from Umea, Sweden’s The Perishers, which while immaculate in its construction and execution, lacks a certain joie de vivre, a critical, crippling absence of both spontaneity and nigh, any musical emotion, that its attempts to emote purely through lyrical channels relegates it to little more than prime wallpapering tuneage. And there is so much better music out there you can hang wallpaper to, settling for something so inconsequential seems unnecessary. Approximate Snow Patrol without the occasional muscular anthem (at least songs like “Run” and “Hands Open” had an awareness that the volume knob did indeed go past ‘4’, even if the former was aping Coldplay’s “Yellow” and the latter almost any Stereophonics rocker), and you’re poking around the right neighborhood.

There are moments on Victorious where it feels as if lead singer Ola Klüft is pulling the words out of his lungs on a string, barely reaching the microphone before dissolving into thin air. Turn the air conditioning on and he’s bound to disappear. The previously mentioned dichotomy comes into full focus on “Carefree,” an uptempo jape so meek you could fit it into a teaspoon. When Klüft sings, “carefree, why cannot we not be, forever you and me,” the nine meandering, sedate tracks that follow it seem to render his plea disingenuous. The banjo in the second verse feels like an attempt for the group to be loose and playful, when it really just feels like Nickel Creek were the last ones in the studio and left it behind. The title track is appropriately soaring, but nothing elsewhere approaches its attempt at musical grandeur. Even the closing number, “Get Well,” spurns the epic tendencies and lingering potential of that final track slot, and the record whimpers to a close while the bandmates make a beeline for the door. 

In a world where a hookless wonder like “Chasing Cars” can bowl over acolytes of a soapy primetime hospital hyper-melodrama, it’s likely that you’ll see The Perishers’ songs continue to pop up on soundtracks to TV shows and marginal romantic comedies. Just don’t expect them to crash the fickle American charts like Snow Patrol yet. They’ve got the stock sensitivities down pat. All they need now is the songs to make them stick.

(Nettwerk)

Reviews

The Ritualists – Painted People

The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music

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ritualists

After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.

“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.

Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.

“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.

There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.

(Out Of Line Music)

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The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk

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The Decline

It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.

Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.

From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).

Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.

(Pee Records / Thousand Islands Records / Disconnect Disconnect Records / Bearded Punk Records)

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