Top critical review
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A word of caution
on 30 September 2006
I bought this record in a rare mood of trustung optimism. I had never heard the group before, but some of the reviews weere intriguing. Brushing aside reviews citing the group/record as the next coming, I remained curious. Surely all those reviews raving about the great sound, and bandying words such as "seminal", citing diversity, suggesting "passion, melody and genious" ... surely the weight of opinion hints at a listening treat both extraordinary and relistenable. Surely?
I have listened to the record a few times. It's above average noise. My tastes go back through original punk in the UK onto hardcore in the early eighties, mid -eighties love of rap and new wave (Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Big Black being the favourites) through to Therapy? and Nirvana in the '90's. This record/group does not bear comparison. Why? I'm glad you asked ...
The singer's voice is grating. I don't mean harsh, unlyrical or lacking in emotion. I mean plain annoying at times. The background soundtrack is fine; it reminds me of numerous bands. It's not exceptional, but then there's only so much one can do within the genre without passing the boundaries of the category. Nope, it's the voice. At times friends have bought records by bands they can't listen to because of the singer's voice. Cypress Hill comes to mind - maybe you like it, maybe you don't, but if the singer's voice annoys you then don't bother. Some singers can have a similar impact when producers leave deep intakes of breath on quiet tracks. Or in Madonna's cases, not so quiet.
So, this singer's voice ... well, for me it fits into the category of elements that detract from the overall sound. I don't hear the instrumental elements at times because the voice (slightly squeaky, slight whining as I hear it) sits at the front of the sound and won't go away. And grates. A bit like listening to Skyclad and, after a while, hearing the singer's lisp come through every other sound. Like listening to My Bloody Valentine and sensing that the swirling sound is overcome by the the female singer's breathing. ike Smashing Pumpkins when the singer used to like to do quiet tracks and ended up sounding whiney and dull. Like some tracks by RadioHead where the singer drones. Like all of the above, this record has some good parts, but it isn't 5 stars; there are simply too many irritating bits.
My conclusion has to be: don't buy it without hearing it. Don't believe the panegyric reviews.