Published 02/10/2009 | 14:43
This Portland, Oregon fourpiece attracted considerable fanfare earlier this year with a debut single that suggested great things were in the offing. As a statement of intent, Too Fake was very special indeed, packing The Strokes-meets-Roxy-Music-meets-LCD-Soundsystem into a thrilling four minutes of youthful abandon.
Songs this good can be indicative of a marvellous talent. Remember the first time you heard Last Nite or I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor?
Of course, it is far easier not to meet early expectations. Music history is littered with bands that promised much and delivered albums of unremitting paucity. The Bravery and our own Fight Like Apes are among the more recent offenders.
And on this, Hockey's debut album, there are places where the band sound like world-beaters and others where they sound like schmucks.
Too Fake kicks off proceedings and it is followed by another gem — 3am Spanish, a playful number with the funkiest bassline this side of Chic that recalls Talking Heads and Prince.
It's an opening salvo that would be the envy of the most seasoned, critically acclaimed band. But its outstanding quality only serves to highlight the problems elsewhere.
Learn to Lose, for instance, is a supremely catchy, anthemic pop song, but it also sounds like Razorlight. And that's never a good thing.
Song Away is especially egregious — with Ben Grubin responsible for one of the naffest choruses of the year.
Musically, it's cheesier than a Chris de Burgh gig in a nursing home; lyrically, it bears all the hallmarks of Dolores O'Riordan: “Tomorrow's just a song away/ Oooh oh, just a song away/ Hey.” Those words are repeated over and over again.
It turns out that the album's title is apt — there's a schizophrenic quality to the music, with the band keen to shoehorn in as many influences and reference points as possible. Sometimes, it's a policy that works, but on the whole it backfires.
Despite this, there are signs of a truly special band here. The album's most conventional song, Four Holy Photos, finds Grubin channelling his inner Bob Dylan. A simple, largely acoustic song, it is surprisingly touching.