Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
Noise By Numbers
Written by: PP on 25/01/2012 11:17:47
You would expect a gritty Midwestern-sounding punk album from a lineup that includes Dan Schafer (Screeching Weasel, The Methadones), Neil Hennessy (The Lawrence Arms, Smoking Popes) and Jeff Dean (The Bomb), among others. But instead, Noise By Numbers sees the members pose in a stance far distant from their punk rock origins, experimenting with an alternative rock sound that brings to mind late 90s Foo Fighters and early 90s Green Day more than anything else on their sophomore album "Over Leavitt".
But their punk roots have not been entirely abandoned, though. "Sara's Reaching For The Sun", for example, sounds like what I'd imagine Foo Fighters playing an Alkaline Trio song to sound like, or vice versa. You can also hear moments where the relaxed clean punk of Smoking Popes makes its way to the mix, but for the most part the band deals in slow to mid tempo alternative rock that recalls the late 90s era of the genre. And herein lies the problem with their sound. Aside from one or two good songs, the material seems energy-starved. The songs move along too slowly for their own good, often resulting in a bland and boring expression, that lacks reference points, memorable choruses, or catchy verses, almost as if the band had given up on the songs already before entering the studio.
I guess you could argue that much of this has to do with idolising the 80s rock sound by The Replacements and Dinosaur Jr, but in the process of adding that influence, the band goes for the darkened pop melody that Alkaline Trio perfected, but without the morbid lyricism and with too much smoothing of the edges in the sound. The result is a sound that lacks the vibrant joy of The Replacements, the bright rock'n'roll and rock star vibes of Foo Fighters, and the catchyness of pop punk. The songs by themselves are alright, but put together they sound a little bit depressing due to the slow tempo and bland melody lines that rarely interest the listener beyond one listen. Decent, but could be so much better if the execution was right.
Download: A Song For Emily, I Don't Think So
For the fans of: Foo Fighters, early Green Day, The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr
Release date 02.08.2011
Jump Start Records