by James Fleming
They called them “dinosaurs.” Roughly that translated to bloated, self-important and detached.
It was the mid seventies and things were musically dire. Until then, rock was Yes, ELP and Genesis. Pop was the faux hippie hangover from the sixties that had, in actual fact, died with those poor souls at Altamont, 1969.
Even the street fighting men had been seduced by the excess cash, loose women and looser morals of the day. The emancipators had become what they hated most; the oppressors.
So along came a new generation. A generation born of discontent, resentment, hope, individualism and a great record collection.
This generation, for a brief while, turned this despicable situation on its head. And things became young, new and exciting once again. Until, the establishment swallowed them whole.
And many of the key players in this movement became what they abhorred most: bloated, self-important, detached, dinosaurs.
And given the state of things today, socially, politically and musically, it’s mind blowing that so many young men and women don’t stand up, tune up, and try to make a change. Or, at the very least, make things exciting once again.
That is the overall effect Albis’ EP Animals has. It serves to emphasise that things have gotten pretty fuckin’ mellow.
Rather than a reflection of discontentment and resentment, we get breathy whining. And instead of individualism and hope, we get uniformity and disappointment.
The four songs on Animals seem to cause some sort of temporal anomaly; they average out at two and a half to three minutes long. Yet, one would swear they were at least four to five minutes in length. Such is their blandness.
Broken Man livens things up at the third song mark, but only marginally. There’s a refreshing burst of lead guitar, which eventually dies down so that we’re left with that damned jaunty beat.
The rest of the EP is a haze of finger-picked acoustic guitar and the breathy singing we’ve come to expect from our young performers. Supposedly “sensitive,” but, it mostly comes across as uninterested and uninteresting.
Occasionally, Albis gives us a bit of grit, a bit of passion, when he strains to hit a high note. He betrays his punk rock roots for the briefest of moments. Moments far too infrequent and far too brief.
With its grief-stricken lyrics (“I feel like I’m dead inside”), shimmering, repetitive chord progressions (check any of the songs) and talk of redwood tress and California heat, it’s all too nice. And as the infamous John Lydon said “nice is a cup of tea”.
Thousands, if not millions, of young people today are making the same music. Cuddling their guitars close to their broken hearts and crooning into the microphone. There is a time and a place for mellowed-out and sensitive music. No one is going to deny that. But we’ve had enough of it now. This trend has gone multi-platinum and far enough.