You know, a lot of critics including myself reach for the first band they think of as a point of reference when judging a band they’ve heard for the first time. And there is a certain logic to that, of course. Writing about music is of course like dancing about architecture, as Frank Zappa (or was it Elvis Costello?) said. I personally think dancing about architecture’s a good idea too, but that’s another post. Never mind, then. Onto business.
With Now It’s Overhead, I thought first of a beefier, more textured Joy Division or a Colonial Killing Joke. Other references I’ve seen cited are mid-career Depeche Mode and the Cure. And I suppose I can kind of see the comparison, except that I find this band to be pretty exciting and the bands which they’re supposed to sound like to be a bit dreary. Such is the nature of music, I guess – a bit of a cha cha about the flying buttresses, rhumba concerning the dormer windows.
There is an attractive darkness to the band’s sound which allies them to a certain dark-pop tradition, but there’s something else there too. This tune in particular is just as much about insistent rhythm and strong melody as it is about atmosphere, the latter being the currency of a lot of miserablist bands to which these guys have been compared. And the singing is strong, in the sense that you don’t get the same woe-is-me effect that plagues so much of this kind of rock music, as if ’emotion’ should be treated like some kind of special effect as opposed to just a given. Kids these days, huh?
Call me Gramps and everything, but with all of this twenty-first century indie rock crowd with the assymetric hairdos and eyeliner (hey, that sounds more like the 80s!), someone forgot to remember to write interesting music. Yet this band kicks that trend in the crotch, much like the aforementioned Joy Division did by 1980 to the shame of the pallid copyists that emerged after they’d moved on.
Thank god for LastFM for introducing me to this outfit! I wonder what they’ll do next.
For more music, check out the Now It’s Overhead MySpace Page.