This is a review of "Sirens EP" recorded by Yellow Stripe Nine. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
I’m very puzzled. Checking the band’s website I find a series of ecstatic reviews for a great live band with a big future. Listening to the CD I just can’t hear it. So bear with me, and go read the other stuff too, because this is obviously a band that is going to divide families. Which has to indicate something powerful in what they’re doing.
To start me going, there’s something a bit uncooked about the whole offering. The ingredients are there, sure enough. The band are adventurous and interesting with their licks and beats. But in the end they don’t serve up the final recording with the panache and self confidence that this kind of clever fussiness would demand. Emotionally, the aftertaste is a lot of caffeine and not much meat and potatoes.
"Sirens" starts the CD. It’s restless, tentative and intermittently mysterious. Mostly it’s a series of sections that spend their time looking for something that, I’m reluctant to admit, might not be worth finding. It’s musical doodling rather than soundscape painting.
"Wind-Up Clockwork Man" suffers a similar deconstruction, with very queasy tempo changes lurching in and out of reggae beats, that don’t work for me. Two thirds of the way in it stops and restarts as a different song altogether.
"Hotel X" goes off at a brisker tempo, with choppy chords and a skittering of high hat. But it is on the corny side of pop sensibility. The vocal is sweet and light but the band really don’t get in under it and push. Again, there are twenty good bits, but little unity.
Brilliantly simple, or simply brilliant - two stools that you fall between at your peril I’d say.