At the end of the 1990’s, a band of young Scottish glam-art indie rockers called Dawn of the Replicants recorded some of the finest music of that decade. Fifteen years later and 4000 miles away across the Atlantic, Georgia band All the Saints release their second album “Intro To Fractions” that has more than a passing resemblance. Imitation is the highest form of flattery I guess, but copyright infringement is not. The thing is though, despite the fact the band are wearing their influences boldly on their chest, this is actually a really interesting album.
The band’s biog is unnecessarily pretentious containing this description of the album: “Suspended on the fringes are lingering melodies forged from the burgeoning tension of three men displaced within their own lives”, whatever that means. Fundamentally, we have a group of 3 young men who like nothing more than stomping on effect boxes and turning their amps all the way up.
With hints of My Bloody Valentine, Ride and the Jesus and Mary Chain, the tracks can sometimes blend into one long distorted blanket of noise.. and I guess this is the only weakness. However, there is a little light and shade, and a few welcome changes of dynamics: the title track is more laid back; “Eio” has fantastic bass work that for once takes the spotlight; “Host” starts with a different vibe, but soon succumbs to a mass of foot pedals; also the spacer tracks like “Sunk Hill” and “4H Trip” work in breaking up the wall of guitar feedback that spills into almost everything else.
Singer and guitarist Matt Lambert has said that, “you can bury your instruments, your words, in effects forever, but eventually you’ll have to say something.” However, lyrically there is nothing mind-blowing: “You’ll lose your mind and face though, at least it’s me. We’ll break this honesty code, it’s guaranteed” or “You spent our wasted summer on drugs and lots of others. A no one, accept from me”.. I think that’s correct anyway, as much of the words are indeed buried under a blurred mix, in which frequencies clash and fight for space. At times (like in “Alteration”) the vocal is treated as just another instrument instead of its normal position, front centre and in its own space. Here it is panned slightly off centre, used as a balance for a guitar to its left. It somehow works I have to admit, and why not just use the voice as another noise – it doesn’t always have to be a focal point.
The rhythm section of Jim Crook on drums and Jim Titus on bass, do apply their talents to the arrangements, and the rhythms are interesting; as well as often spiky and disturbing. The music is definitely engaging, even if you feel in the pit of your stomach that more could have been achieved with slightly less. Still, it is thoroughly heartening to listen to a set of songs that are unpredictable and made without an FM radio audience in mind – it is exciting to listen to music that although clearly influenced by others, is at least not influenced by the standard list that is usually reeled off by bands nowadays. This is well worth ear time.
Interestingly, when you look at the download of their 2008 debut on Amazon UK, it has been mistakenly tagged with the British pop group All Saints and sadly all the reviews (good and bad) are for that album… just proves how important it is when choosing your band name.
All the Saints, ‘Intro To Fractions’, released Jan 30th 2012