This is a review of "Chemistry" recorded by Concrete Bullet. The review was written by Russell Leeming in 2006.
Concrete Bullet are radio friendly. There, I’ve said it. Radio friendly. Wait, where are you all going?? Drat!
Ah, I see. You’re all hiding behind your sofas in anticipation that Concrete Bullet are going to be the new Keane, worried that a new Tim Fearnley-Whittingsporth is going to inflict song writing pain and smashed up radios all over the country with ditties entitled ‘Oh Golly, Where Did I Put The Tea Bags?’ and ‘Francis, Would You Like A Game Of Tennis?’
Wrong! Francis can put his tennis racket back in the cupboard for now and turn River Cottage off the telly. Then he would be advised to check out Concrete Bullet, a band armed with Dave Grohl’s cheesy grin rather than Tom Chaplin’s pint of shandy. They are to put it basically, an un-shit Ash.
The opening track of five is entitled ‘Chemistry’. It’s a shaky start, probably due to the track’s unbeatable normality. While happily shuffling its feet to the groove rock beat, it doesn’t ever get close to breaking into anything remarkable. It’s how Feeder would sound if they ever unsuccessfully tried to rediscover their heavier roots. However, as the CD wears on it becomes apparent that this tepidness isn’t the order of the day, thankfully.
The interesting one is certainly ‘Too Late’. In my experience, rock bands and softer ballads have hardly made the perfect match. Take the Foo Fighters for example; their acoustic CD on In Your Honour was hardly critically acclaimed, and seemed a needy distraction to a rather average rock CD, rather than a move forward. Stripped down ballads can work however, with Noel Gallagher producing some pretty special moments on B sides to Oasis’ earlier records. ‘Too Late’ certainly fits in with Mr Gallagher. Vocalist Sarah (the poor lass doesn’t have a surname like the rest of the band, according to the CD cover) thus far has come across as a pretty mandatory singer- nothing special, but ultimately matching the style of the band. It is here however that her voice really comes out of its shell, putting Kelly Clarkson and Faith Hill together to turn an initially morose Crowded House like tune into something stunningly beautiful. Not only would it make a great late night Channel 5 programme (‘When Voices Attack’) but it would DEFINITLY be a top ten single if it was released on the British public with a promotional appearance on Loose Women.
It’s a hard task, but something has to follow it. ‘Useless To You’ is the unfortunate song that chose the short straw. Despite being so lyrically bitter, and thus different to the other four songs here, (“How did I ever stand a chance against you/ You betrayed me/ Made me so unhappy…”) it still manages to go in one ear and out the other, rather like Prime Minister’s question time. Even an opening reminiscent of We Are Scientists ‘Great Escape’ and a guest appearance from Mr Guitar-Solo can’t save these three minutes from utter mediocrity.
In stark contrast, ‘Keep Me’ is perhaps the EP’s best rock and roll moment as well as the most lyrically striking, dealing with the paranoia of being in a relationship (“Aren’t you out of my league/ Why are you still here lying next to me”). There is also an intriguing, albeit clumsy ending which suggests how the paranoia is controlling one’s feeling (“Nothing comes for free/ So everything I do is so that this is how our lives can always be”). Closer ‘Just Lust’ is more of the same with Sarah trying to convince herself that her feelings for someone don’t go as far as the dreaded idea of love, reassuring herself that it’s “not love” and “just lust” before saying “it’s just a phase”.
While ‘Chemistry’ may have the raging hormones of a fifteen year old teen, it primarily manages to touch on the emotive side of growing up. It’s a teenage girl rather than a teenage boy, to put it stereotypically. Granted there are plenty of shortcomings, but nothing that would plague their youthful audience of Foo Fighters and Evanescence fans. And me? Well I’m left longing for the days when we would put condoms on bananas and stay up on the quiet watching twelve o’clock freeview, before downing vodka and caning weed all night while playing micro machines on the PS1.
They don’t make nights in like they used to.