This is a review of "Untitled" recorded by Stateless. The review was written by Catherine Klein in 2002.
Stateless are: Jimi Sturdy, drums & piano, Chris James, vocals & guitar, and Jon Taylor, ex-Duran Duran, on bass & vocals. All age 20, apparently. I suspect it is also Jimi who is responsible for the gorgeous synth playing throughout. The inlay of their untitled demo has a long list of muso-boasts and achievements - two paragraphs per band member. Just two tracks on this CD, both cut to radio-friendly length.
Credit where credit is due, these three lads really are the masters of sonic first impressions. Both "Prism" and "Horizon" start wonderfully in great clouds of advanced synth and sample sounds, complemented by very impressive, professional vocals. I have had heard no Leeds band thus far that prove to be so immediately adept.
Yet, I have heard many that disappoint less. When the songs unfold, out go the surprises of the samples and Coldplay-style singing and in walks Lenny Kravitz and his backing band. The musicianship is second to none, and according to their inside sleeve, there seems to be no instrument on earth that these guys could not play competently between them. The drumming is superbly tight, at first I thought they were drum samples. They are also one of the few rock bands that use synths as real instruments, as an integral part of their sound.
But this just isn't the point of music, is it? Some of the best punk bands of the late 70's, that rescued music from the sterility of ultra-slick disco, could hardly play an instrument between them, but they changed the face of popular culture forever. The problem Stateless seem to have is that they are way too bound by there own proficiency; you wish they'd just f#ck up every now and again, as such consistent technical accuracy is rather dehumanising.
I have listened to this demo many times, but the songs are just not here. They can certainly play and arrange, but there is little evidence of great songwriting. Lyrically, there is nothing to make you care, nothing new said, no emotions evoked.
The melodies are quite catchy and I have found myself singing the songs at random times during the day. Whether I like it or not, Stateless have a definite audience and their sound is very marketable - but to say, as they do on their back cover, that they are "new, fresh, original, exciting" is simply untrue.
To give this a mark out of ten is difficult. I would not be surprised if they become a signed act and have a professional future in music. But for me they are just too safe, too comfy and too unthreatening.