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Mega by Built By Snow

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Reviewed on 3rd January 2009.

 
 

Mega

By Built By Snow

Built By Snow are the type of band who name-check Pacman in their lyrics, and stuff their songs full of oldschool gaming sound effects. While there's a whiff of gimmick surrounding their geeked-out indie rock, every one of 'Mega's nine tracks clocks in at under three minutes, so the novelty value never has a chance to wear off.

Built By Snow throw the listener in at the deep end, with the synth-packed, one minute long instrumental 'Giant Robot Attack.' The SNES sound effects are underpinned by a crunchy backing beat, which ensures it never begins to resemble a game soundtrack.

The fleshed-out sound of 'Giant Robot Attack' is also present in 'Mega's standout tracks: 'Something in 3D' and 'Algometric Touch.' Both of these songs feature melodic gang backing vocals that could have been lifted straight out of Klaxons hit 'Golden Skans.' These backing vocals give Built By Snow a trendy, electro-indie edge, and it's easy to imagine these two songs capturing the attention of the NME.

'Algometric Touch' has a dense backdrop of heavily distorted riffs and buzzy synths, while 'Something in 3D' takes a slightly different approach to achieving a more rounded sound, with plenty of jerky indie guitars and jangling drumbeats thrown into the mix.

'All The Weird Kids Know' also makes an effort to soften its abrasive, SNES-like samples. This time it's with a brisk, underlying beat of hand-clapping sound effects, which just manages to nudge 'All The Weird Kids Know' into accessible territory.

It also features some heavily stuttered main and backing vocals, which are in danger of turning 'All The Weird Kids Know' from irritatingly catchy, to just plain irritating. This song will certainly get stuck in your head, but whether you want it there is a different matter entirely.

'All The Weird Kids Know' layers on the guitars and drumbeats for a harder-rocking end-section. 'Invaders' also pulls this trick, ensuring that it ends on a high despite its shaky, stripped-down start.

The rest of this album sounds pretty much like 'Invaders' only without the last minute high. 'Implode Alright' has a crackly production that makes it sound as though you're listening to an old gaming soundtrack played through broken speakers. The crackly edge becomes increasingly prominent, until 'Implode Alright' is actually pretty unpleasant to listen to. 'a-beta' is more basic, strung-together synths, and the mournful 'Attachment' hints at an intriguingly sombre side to Built By Snow, before wandering off on a complete tangent.

Half of 'Mega' consists of likeably geeky electro-indie with plenty of oldschool gaming sound effects, addictive Klaxons-style backing vocals, and urgent, indie-rock end-sections. The other half falls flat because it still sounds more like a collection of random sound effects than a song. Built By Snow may only get it right half of the time but, when the essential weirdness of their chosen sound is taken into account, they strike a duff note far fewer times than you'd expect.

 

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