Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vocoder -- It Should Have Been So Easy (2007)

Vocoder -- It Should Have Been So Easy (Rock-o-tronic!)

This New Zealand band fulfills a great deal of the promise it showed on its debut EP. They are a rocking outfit with a lot of good ideas, evoking The Saints, Wire, The Replacements, and ‘60s garage rock at various points.

Some of their material is just back-to-basics rocking, as on the title cut. Other tracks show off some sophistication underneath the rock. “Biting My Tongue” is rough hewn rock with an underlying structure that reminds me of a Lou Reed or Velvet Underground song. The dirty guitars mix with a roller rink keyboard, while lead singer Jamie exclaims that he keeps “fucking up” while his two band mates chime in “every time I look at you.”

The band moves into New York Dolls territory on the playful “Vanilla”, mixed with instrumental breaks that bounce in a manner reminiscent of The Swingers (if any of you remember “Counting the Beat”). The song goes from one approach to the other flawlessly.

The band’s use of dynamics on “Collapsed Stars” works very well. The slinky blues rock riff that keys the verses keeps you going, and the song explodes in the middle, with plenty of sore throated shouting. When it gets back to its mellower mode, momentarily, the band finds some nice variations on this musical motif.

This is one of those albums where the stand out tracks really stand out, while the others are still pretty good. If Vocoder can up the number of top notch tracks by just a couple, they’ll have a really great album on their hands.

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