Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Not Squares – Yeah OK (Richter Collective Records)

I can’t decide if it’s a good thing when a band describes themselves as a ‘mutant Cyclops lovechild’ of various other very well-known artists. On the one hand it shows that they recognise their roots and realise that they fit into a certain genre that can be defined by those artists, on the other it suggests straight away that they’re going to be unoriginal and a carbon copy of something that has already been. Not Squares claim to be the lovechild of LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax and Crystal Castles – but I needn’t have told you that if you had listened to the album already.

The album sets off at a fast pace with ‘Release The Bees’; a drum and synth heavy track not dissimilar to The Chemical Brothers. The next two songs come around before you know what’s really happening amongst the incessant rave that has suddenly started pouring out of your speakers. The songs reek of every stereotype you could think of from an electropop band: Lots of half-spoken, quite unclear vocal lines, fuzz bass all over each song, synths screaming out sporadic sounds all over the place. This is all fair enough, these are the sorts of thing that define a genre and without them they wouldn’t be that electropop band that they’re obviously aiming to be. But then something completely unexpected comes along; a multitude of cowbells. By the fourth song on the album ‘Smith & Carlos’ all of a sudden there is a rhythmic overload of cowbells, it all sounds very familiar. And so it should, as this is one of the first things I think of when I think of LCD Soundsystem. They use cowbells to create an almost carnival like atmosphere within their songs and it turns out that Not Squares have gone for the same approach. It is at this point that they also decide to ditch some of the synth parts and replace them with simple picked guitar and bass lines making them all of a sudden sound like a band rather than a dance act. They sound exactly like LCD Sounsystem to be more precise.

I could be mistaken that for being in the process of giving Not Squares a bad review with all this talk of them sounding like everyone else and in particular LCD however this is not the case; although it has all been heard before it hasn’t necessarily been done a huge amount better than this. If they were to clean up some of the rough edges on a couple of the tracks, Not Squares would be up there with the bands they aspire to be. If they could then add to that a unique edge that none of the previously mentioned bands have used then they really could become something quite special. 7/10


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