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Friday, May 05, 2006 

Bite sized

I've been a bit behind on the CDs I've ganked from the Ontarion, so I've gone ahead and done four quick reviews tonight - all are around 100 words, and I've forgotten how much I enjoy doing that every so often, as an exercise (as opposed to most modern music magazines, where this kind of format is a necessity). If nothing else, I enjoy being more snarky than usual.

Editors – The Back Room
In theory, Editors are to Interpol as Interpol are to Joy Division, but that's only been making the rounds because too few people these days are familiar with Echo & The Bunnymen. That doesn't mean Editors are still mere copyists; sure, Tom Smith sounds like Ian McCullough, but as with Interpol these guys land on just the right side of the homage/slavish imitation divide. Smith always sings like he's doing something deeply unpleasant on the more charging songs (which is perfect, especially on “Munich” and “Blood”), and the slow songs have some sting - “Open Your Arms” actually earns its six minutes. Not innovative in the slightest, but quality nonetheless.

Morrissey – Ringleader Of The Tormentors
He's finally gotten laid, but of course it hasn't made him any less overwrought. Listen to single “You Have Killed Me” and it's obvious that Moz's voice is shot, his lyrics continue their decay from the hallowed days of the Smiths, and he's got the most generic rock band imaginable. That last element improves a bit on the rest of these songs, but not the other two; You might have thought that a happy Morrissey would be capable of getting out of the rut he's been digging himself for decades, but no such luck – this is a “return to form” only by the standards of the fanatic and desperate.

Pilate – Sell Control For Life's Speed
Pilate are post-Coldplay, which should make them insufferable, but as the better-than-average singles from their debut could tell you, they've got something. Chemistry? Tunes? Whatever it is, here should-be filler like “Over-Ground” and “Ambulance” actually make a plausible grab for your heart, and the highlights (knife-edge single “Barely Listening”, the eight minute “Don't Stare”) genuinely hit it out of the park. A few naff lyrics aside (see: album title) this is surprisingly great modern rock for people who like emotions but not emo and who want a singer they can empathize with, as opposed to Chris Martin.

Wilderness – Vessel States
You're already in trouble when your only thank you is “The Music and all who have been a part of it”, but despite Wilderness' high seriousness the music on Vessel States is as unwieldy as the cobbled together, garish album art. Four guys trying to pull of subtle-ish post-punk (read: a slower, simpler Comsat Angels) with one of them emoting like a screaming Mark Burgess from the Chameleons UK could possibly work if there was any craft present, but this is a hookless mess. Don't recognize any of those band names? You'll be even less interested in Wilderness than those that do.

I agree with all of these! Well, not the last one as I haven't heard it. And Editors' album was somehow vaguely disappointing but that was probably from loving Bullets and Munich too much for ages already before it came out.

But you've heard Pilate? I'm a little impressed, I thought they were really only known up here. I love "Munich", but I prefer "Blood" to "Bullets", and the best part of their record is definitely the first three songs.

Yeah, thanks to being a regular on the forum of an internationally successful mainstream rock band (where lots of people are very generous with sharing albums) I guess. I've only listened to the album in question a few times but it's fairly enjoyable and Don't Stare is definitely a standout.

Have you heard the B-side Editors recorded with Elbow producing? There's a little of their influence in it and it's pretty good.

Ooh, I haven't even heard of that. I'd love to get ahold of it, though - Editors with a little Elbow thrown in sounds pretty intriguing.

And keep listening to the Pilate - it's been growing on me pretty quickly.

I'm relieved you hate the Moz album as much as I do.

And vice versa - although I should mention that I hated it before he compared Canada to Nazi Germany.

You, sir, are a gentlemen and a scholar.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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