By Instant Species
Lured by some professional quality graphics I bought Instant Species' "Home Alone" CD last year. I ended up a bit disappointed by what I thought of at the time as bleak plodding music. I didn't get it. Offered "The longer you leave it ..." (four years of development on one CD) I grabbed the chance to get to know the band a bit better. Because whatever you say, the ears are never enough. You need to get to know people a bit. You need to hear the room the band are playing in.
Dozens of listens and a quick email later I can report a major shift in my take on Instant Species. I now have them filed under "modest Yorkshire perfectionists" with phrases like "gritty realism", "Pennine Kinks", "closet power-popsters" and "English tradition" lying around ready to use in whatever sentences come to the fingers.
My conversion started with a single moment of sheer bodychemical surge. The extended mix of 2001's "Give the Girl a Chance" has two minutes of thrilling guitar escape from the cloth capped reserve of most of IS's repertoire. For a hundred and twenty seconds, they forget the bloody chord structure and go for the big musical howl of joy. I loved it.
Track five "Do you know what you did to me", seems to start in the same mood. But it gets reigned-in pretty sharpish. Instant Species have a strong punk ethic and bass tone, with an Alice Cooper heart threatening to burst out at any minute. The structures are tight, the emotional range is controlled. For some listeners this fierce tension is what will grab them (even if they wouldn't know what the hell I'm talking about). It's something about extreme suppressed excitement.
Monkey Lipstick opens the CD with some snappy drumming and a big clunking chord sequence (a joke?). But against all odds it then develops into something subtle, interesting and very catchy. Instant Species do like their standard eight bar chord sequences - a useful discipline I guess, but something the better songs start to venture away from.
"No Chance" at 2 hammers in with Aerosmith guitar and an Alice Cooper vocal impression, and then leads them firmly to the safety of a Brit Pop balladeering melody chorus. A very cute construction. Original and highly infectious.
"Rockets and Lasers" is a daft song about arcade games. It sounds like a good friend on the beer. Loveable and great fun in the right context. Someone who can make all the Asteroids and Space Invaders noises like him out of Police Academy. My CD next to a pile of work to do isn't exactly a sympathetic place for it to be. Pop quality.
Let's Do It First is (obviously) the last track. Recorded live, it has exactly the same tight, perfectly rehearsed sound of the studio tracks. And the same ringing bass tone and punky combativeness. It is the one iffy song on the CD, but having stayed in with IS for five tracks, it's good to be out and about watching the kids go berserk in the mosh pit. And the riff in the final section is a killer. "Thank You Very Much" as they say at the end. Instant Species have themselves a distinctive musical niche they can be proud of. Where's that new CD?
acoustic indie rock