This is a review of "Can You Rely On Them" recorded by The Dharma. The review was written by Victoria Holdsworth in 2007.
Upon receiving this CD, I thought – ‘Looks promising, very slick. Maybe a better photographer could have made the live looking cover shot look a little less like they are performing at an open jam night to an empty pub.’
‘Can You Rely On Them’ is a tune that upon first listen seems to pull no punches, upon second or more listens you will be thinking ‘what the hell is going on with these guys.’
It is filled with lots of quirky little solos, which do showcase a lot of musical talent that is there, somewhere! And the whole lot is pushed along with an insistent staccato drum beat all the way through.
Can the listener rely on them as a band I asked myself? Well I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. It’s not that they’re bad, just that they are a little unsure of where they’re going or maybe they just haven’t found their feet yet. It’s like they have opened a big jar of musical sweeties and dived straight in, then, upon coming up for air, their faces are covered in empty wrappers of all sorts.
The lead vocals are none too shabby on this tune, but you do get distracted by the clashing Lemmy inspired backing vocals, which tend to over power the whole thing.
I can only describe it as Motorhead meets The Automatic. I did think that maybe it is possible that the mish mash of musical styles may be deliberate to make them stand out from the crowd. If this was the case, it hasn’t worked.
The B side, entitled ‘FJD’ instantly reminds me of The Beatles with a bit of a rock overtone. The underlying sound is very Sgt Peppers in its whole texture and vocal style.
This is another tune which wants to grab you by the hair and race off with you like being stuck on a roundabout that’s never gonna stop and you have nowhere to be sick.
Again, like the first song it doesn’t really know which style/era it wants to follow from one bar to the next.
From the hard rocking Beatles esque start, it suddenly slips into some sort of prog rock affair. The B side tune is much better on the ear than the first, once more the lead vocal is very pleasing and there are some inspired harmonies thrown in before it melts into another style of Velvet Underground induced psyche.
My only criticism is that what lets ‘FJD’ down as a track is the weak chorus, which does not seem to fit in any way shape or form, in an otherwise strong ish, albeit disjointed, tune. It was all a bit Fighstar/Busted/McFly pop and nonsense for my liking, and probably a few other peoples pallets.