This is a review of "s/t" recorded by The Music. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2002.
The Music have had a phenomenal start to their working lives. Three years on from their origins in Kippax, expectations and circumstances have said "this album has got to be massive." Early gigs at the Duchess of York in January 2000 showed glimpses of their root talents: a searing voice and twitching charismatic in Robert Harvey and a guitar trance demon in Adam Nutter. Something was obviously going to come of it. Coalition decreed it would be. And here it is.
Power-placed at tracks 6 and 10, "Turn Out the Light" and "Too High" haul the Music standard eight miles high with great flailing streams of colour in a psychedelic wind of epic proportions. And all the disgruntled spaced out kids of suburban Britain are waving their arms in unison, demanding the euphoric moment of their birthright. Dance you bastards, dance.
This is the Music's great achievement: exciting a whole swathe of new kids to live music, kids who would otherwise be drawn to techno / trance dance and bored with the lumbering dinosaurs of rock.
What more could we ask?
Well, there's faint praise in the sniffy Q magazine and one or two Web sites. There are some holes on the song writing front. And despite a big name producer, an engineer and five assistants, there are hints of muddy production values. It sounds to my ears like Jim Abbiss and Co have been busy restructuring and digitally enhancing the improvised riffage that the lads do best. The freedom promised in their press-spun attitudes doesn't seem to give them free reign in the studio. Lifts and changes are wedged into the mix at regular intervals like standard units from the dancefloor toolkit. Abbiss has worked with Unkle, and DJ Shadow, with a background in engineering and mixing.
So noises are hurled in to decorate and excite, but without strong connections to the pure sounds of Robert's voice and Adam's guitar. Chord changes are surprisingly predictable, and with the aforementioned noble exceptions, the tracks are "numbers" rather than songs, excursions on well-loved riffs from some anonymised suburban cul-de-sac with Led Zep on the stereo. Two minute outbursts of joy and passionately chaotic creativity become slabs of five and six minute narcolepsy. "The Truth is No Words" is an example of the problem. It's the kind of non-song that graces twenty home brewed demos every week.
If they really were a street level band with day jobs and College, this album would be an astonishing and life affirming blast of exuberance. But they're not. They're a groomed, nurtured, protected and well-promoted front end of a fairly big machine. Dear God, don't let it screw them up.