This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Mainstay. The review was written by Richard Garnett in 2003.
It's impressive! - there have not been a straighter set of pub rock songs committed to record for a considerable time. Mainstay offer pop schlock rock by numbers, west coast vocals, wibbly guitar solos and song lyrics that can be sung with one hand thrust upwards in a clutching motion and the other on your heart. Some of those all time classic rhyming couplets are dusted off for the occasion - "looking up at the sky" with "wondering why" is a particular favourite of mine.
Identifying Mainstay's influences would be difficult from the flavourless soup of sound being served up. The instrumentation and vocal performance is solid and the proficient fret wanking adorning almost every song would make for fitting chin rubbing and admiring head nodding around the local pubs of the world. Some excellent backing harmonies offer a few lighter moments and strengthen the saccharin vocals at every decent opportunity. The songs come and go but the Ronan Keating style guitar pop ballad "How come you keep" is worth a mention as the strongest offering, despite being one of the chief exponents of the sickly song book of lyrics.
It may sound like I'm being pretty scathing but you must put this release in context. Depending on who this CD is aimed at then Mainstay have either hit the mark or are so far off it they need an express ticket out of here. It's lyrically painful but it sounds pretty - is it aiming for the discerning listener or the pub foot tapper & lighter lifter? Ample careers have been made from both but some future thinking on the subject to stay main or to stray may be required.