by James Fleming
The groove has left the building, thank you and goodnight.
Where once there would have been breathing room, there is a relentless snare pattern. And, where once there would have been expertly timed off-beat guitar, there is a wall of distortion.
On occasion, the hi-hat fills that off-beat in place of the guitar. On these occasions, Talco’s music becomes genuinely thrilling. However, more often than not, their music suffers from the now decade-old clichés that defined the oft-maligned mid 00’s wave of pop-punk: heavily distorted guitars, an unnecessarily rapid drum beat, Dropkick Murphys’ gang-choruses and Less Than Jake-style horns.
The songs on Silent Town fly by in a mad headlong rush, as if one note simply wasn’t good enough. Almost no space has been left for each instrument, never mind the notes they’re playing. The horns appear to only be bound to the key of the song and not by the beat. The drums themselves seem to have very little to do with the beat a lot of the time and more to do with filling the sound out as much as possible.
Now, with two guitars, bass, saxophone, trumpet and vocals, the drums don’t need to fill out that sound. Rather, they should provide the back-beat and let each instrument compliment each other. Instead, they all just mash together to form an impenetrable wall of sound.
That’s the album at its worst.
When Talco get it right, the results are excellent. Their Italian-folk-style vocal melodies provide an exciting contrast to the waves of Blink-182 soundalikes currently polluting our airwaves. When the horns are given sufficient space for their lines, they mesh with the band perfectly, adding not necessarily something new, but something classic to the bands’ sound.
On tracks such as the stellar ‘Via Da Qui,’ the band groove together tight as a jam jar’s lid. All the elements come together in a truly interesting way; rather than a wall of distorted guitar, the clean, choppy guitar sound comes to the fore, leaving the distorted guitar to play complimentary stabs. And while the drums do eventually descend into the aforementioned bashing, as if the drummer simply got bored, that ska guitar saves ‘Via Da Qui’ from turning to total mush.
Silent Town would be a promising debut album. But, Talco needed a stronger record for their sixth outing if they want to stay relevant. In a world with too much product, the band need to truly distinguish themselves from the pack.
Those flashes of brilliance have buckets of potential. But, rather than develop those all-too-brief sparks, Talco conform to the punk rock norm, throw in that damned snare drum pattern and Silent Town suffers for it.
It’s as if this record is supposed to sound thrilling and exciting. But rather than actually doing anything thrilling or exciting, Talco have resorted to age-old techniques that signify thrill. The result? You’ve heard it before.