On our breaks at work we like to play a game. This is known as the 'mini challenge', where the first person to spot a mini in the packed supermarket car park wins. It's that simple and exciting, and passes the time for the half hour before Doctors comes on. Well it did do, but now everyone's bloody got one.
The other day I couldn't help but notice a car with the words 'Big Ian from Party Band, 'Huge' written on it. Ahh, Big Ian; a minor celebrity around York, bless him. Though his band is locally popular, I'm afraid the words 'party band' frighten the shits out of me.
The only thing worse, perhaps, would be 'the party band- with feelings'. Which brings me to Stark, a New York City trio described as the children of the B-52's and The Stooges. Christ.
"18 again with malicious intent, so many stories I don't need to invent."
Yep, it's that new(ish) clichéd 'punk' again. Meshed inside a horror wall of noise, the only other audible line I can hear is something along the lines of "I think about drinking early in the morning." To me it just sounds so far like a second rate 'Generation Terrorists', with the 'feelings' just being the same tired old clichés that come with being young and full of spunk. Next song 'I Pay...' could be a Nickleback single; loads of nondescript husky vocals over a repetitive guitar that our Chad would be proud of. "I paaaaaaayaah".
Then all of a sudden and without warning, we're met with something very good; The Pretenders' like mellow storytelling of Dreams Come True showcases the band at their most comfortable, At times it threatens to veer into Sheryl Crow type M.O.R, but never quite does. It's by far the high point of a confused album, for a band whose desire to play punk music is overlooking their real star qualities. Think Ivory Coast using Drogba in goal for a World Cup Qualifier.
There are more decent moments when the band explore this side of their music too. 'OH NO!' is a slightly more accessible Eels from their Beautiful Freak days, and This Day gives singer Lani Ford a chance to showcase her vocal talents, while also providing an all too rare moment where the band do 'heavy well'. Unfortunately, songs such as 'R-D-R' and 'Disturbed' turn the boreometer up to 11, the latter the biggest culprit; "I think my attitudes bad and I look like shit, but before your very eyes I'll be making a hit". Again, Ford's talents are lost behind something you're likely to converse over on a Thursday night at the Grapes.
All of which merely leaves me confused. Are Stark merely teasing us with a collection of the piss poor and brilliant, or are they indeed young, full of spunk and just taking their time before they hit us with what they're really good at? I'm cynical.
More miss than hit.