Saturday, 5 July 2008

Review: Violent Soho - We Don't Belong Here

Pixies, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Tad, Green River, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, The Melvins, Sub Pop, Screaming Trees, Alice In Chains, Seattle, grunge, Seattle, grunge, Seattle, grunge, grunge, grunge.

Yes, Violent Soho are a cliché grunge band, and unashamedly so (just check out any one of their press photos for evidence). The beauty of a cliché, however, is that, unless someone comes along every once in a while to enforce it, the cliché ceases to exist. And Violent Soho are enforcers of the highest quality. If you were to listen to We Don't Belong Here without paying attention to the vocals you would be forgiven for thinking Violent Soho should be included in the above list. The lyrics are pure 21st century however. From the apathy of 'My Generation' ("My generation lives in moderation."), and the cynicism (and naivety) of 'Bombs Over Broadway', to the condemnation of our instant gratification culture in 'Muscle Junkie', We Don't Belong Here is no throwback album. So to spare repetition I will refrain from mentioning any of the previously mentioned bands.

Opening track 'Love Is A Heavy Word' sets the pace for the album with its hyperactive bassline, squealing feedback from the guitars, and some excellent vocals. God gets a nod in the song, and religion seems to be a reoccurring theme through the album, though not a positive one as the next song, 'Jesus Stole My Girlfriend', shows. 'Son Of Sam' and 'Muscle Junkie' recount feelings of isolation and being an outcast ("Beautiful girl you've got a hole in your heart."), and both are good songs, if a little derivative.

'Dumb Machine' is the next stand out track on the album. The song sees Violent Soho drifting from the grunge feel of previous songs to a slower, less heavy sound. Lyrically the song is more ambiguous then other material too ("The hours in your heart won't keep you warm."). 'Bombs Over Broadway' goes the opposite direction with blunt, yet catchy, lyrics ("Try and run away/Fuck the system.") and a riff that sounds as fresh as it did 3 years ago.

The epic 'Birth Of The Teen-Age' is next, and with its slow burning guitar and cryptic lyrics it is sure to remind the listener of a band which I promised not to mention again. 'Outsider' is a run of the mill acoustic guitar backed with strings-type number which doesn't really grab the listener. The closing track, 'Scrape It', has the opposite effect however, with it's ear-splitting feedback and pounding drums, not to mention one of the best uses of the word "yeah" in recent times.

We Don't Belong Here is a promising debut from Violent Soho.
The worst thing I can say about this album is that they didn't record their cover of GOD's 'My Pal'. While the band is susceptible to claims of being derivative, they are definitely getting close to mastering the art of banging out a catchy tune.

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