By Sweet Sneakers
Young indie four-piece Sweet Sneakers sound like they could do something reasonably impressive with a bit more care and effort. Without it, an otherwise jolly pop tune is left feeling disappointingly cold.
After an endearingly low-fi, The-Strokes-with-Wintermute-intricacy opening, Fight Fire With Fire quickly descends into a mess of sloppy percussive play and a vocal that lacks so much conviction, the song might as well be an instrumental.
Taken in isolation, no specific element is terrible. Instead, there's a vibe of completely apathetic competency to the whole thing. Sweet Sneakers obviously have a good ear for the type of music they want to make, and they never completely mess up the delivery of it. There are some nice moments straining through. The refrain, while obvious, is preposterously radio-friendly. Some of the guitar work is clever. And although the song feels too long, even at 3:15, its structure is spot-on.
This is a group of young musicians with time on their side. It takes any act a while to tighten up sufficiently, and it's clear Sweet Sneakers have found a sound, even if it's not particularly their sound. They just need to transform that sound into one where they actually seem to give a damn about what they're playing. Until they manage that, their output is always going to feel careless.