For Love Not Lisa's debut Merge came out to critical praise a couple of years back but seemed to get lost in the post-Seattle glut of guitar albums. The inclusion of "Slip Slide Melting" from their debut on last year's The Crow soundtrack seemed to have finally earned them a bit of attention and now it's time to capitalise.
This is a hard album to review. First let me say that I like it. I like it a *lot*. But it's hard to talk about the songs without things degenerating into simply a list of component parts and influences.
FLNL take the Seattle/grunge/call-it-what-you-like sound and both temper it with a classic-rock edge and grind it up a few notches with the machine-like precision of hardcore. But much as the influences are blended seamlessly and this album rocks, rages and drifts beautifully there's too many steals, unconscious or otherwise, from the people they listen to. Now, this can work both for and against, as several UK Britpop bands - in particular Elastica - have found out. While lending your songs an instant degree of familiarity and comfort, it will have people who know the originals trying to work out where they heard a riff or a vocal line before and finding themselves unable to get lost in the music. Elastica almost get away with it since they're lifting from the early 80's but people remember the early 90's a whole lot better. If anyone doubts these accusations then I'm quite happy to go through my record collection naming bits (I'll be starting at my Helmet albums) but when something like "AAA" starts off with me absolutely positive that I'm listening to a cover of Fugazi's "Exit Only" then there's obviously a problem.
So - minor chords, crushing riffs, plaintive and snarling classic rock vocals (think Kurt Cobain meets old Bruce Springsteen for starters), measured anger, soaring Cheap Trick-esque harmonies - closest single comparison would be that of a King's X for the mid 90's. A huge compliment incidentally - no-one switched between crushing riffs and floating harmonies so effortlessly and beautifully as King's X, one of the most under-rated rock bands of the late 80's/early 90's.
Anyone who likes the alternative-rock thing will like this fine, fine album but like me a fair few of you may have problems totally embracing it with open arms - its influences being just that little bit *too* transparent for you to relax and let it grip your soul. Great album. I'm confused. Can you tell ?