Foreign Talks

Foreign Talks

Written by: TL on 05/10/2013 16:00:06

Normally when we do round ups of the records that have been sent to us for review, each batch has a little of something for everybody, but naturally you do get the exceptions - batches which have one or more writers feeling like there isn't really anything too much to his or her taste. My reviewing "Foreign Talks", the debut LP of a young Vancouver quartet of the same name, whose average age is below twenty, is admittedly a consequence of my coming upon one such batch, and while I had hoped that it would turn out to be an elegant serving of indie rock, I feel compelled to give away the review by just stating right off the bat that I've disliked this record already from the second listen. Here's why:

What Foreign Talks offer on their ten track debut is music that I would essentially label as semi-acoustic guitar-pop, of the conservative orientation where instruments must at all times remain no more than a backdrop to the vocal work. Theoretically this would be fine, especially because these guys sing some decent harmonies, but their technical qualities are countered by a docile lack of edge and energy in their tone and delivery. It sounds a bit like I imagine artists like Young The Giant, The Kooks or even Jason Mraz would, if they just did not really care about any of the songs they were singing.

It's a complacency that robs the band's melodies of any strength and catchiness, which means that all I think is really left to engage me as a listener are the lyrics, which also seem to be of a fairly banal variety for the hard fought stretches that I can force my attention to stay on the album. The only standout I really notice is "Mama", which deals with how the narrator apologises to his dad for not being a football player but wanting to be a musician instead, but even that subject is handled in such a laid-back manner that it's hard for me to really care.

In Foreign Talks defense, I'm sure they will have fans come to their defense, that insist that their album has a lot of quality as a relaxing and chill record, and admittedly, that might be what rubs me the wrong way because purely subjectively speaking, I've always been much to restless for "chill" music. Still though, I feel like these guys are trying to be like a modern light-version of Beach Boys or Simon & Garfunkel, yet while they have the compositional technique, they seem to lack the perspective to imbue any of their songs with any interesting character.

Maybe it's something that'll come to them as they grow older and a bit more experienced, but at this point, I really think their debut is strictly a technical accomplisment, while the artistic style of it is as bland as they come. Overall then, it strikes me as a rare picture of perfect mediocrity, and where other bands self-title their albums because they feel it sums them up, I suspect this is a case of a cop-out, because I wonder if these dudes know themselves, if they actually want this record to mean something to us, and in that case what that something is.


Download: Mama, N.W. Wonka
For The Fans Of: Young The Giant, The Kooks, Jazon Mraz

Release Date 16.04.2013
Expunged Records

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