It’s always good when, upon reading the accompanying PR bumf hitched to new releases, you find that you are about to listen to a masterpiece. Game on. To misquote HBO’s Boardwalk Empire - 'wetter than a mermaid’s tits' would aptly describe where I was at.
I was soon scolded for ignoring my pessimistic instincts. My Victoria Falls moment was to quickly transform into the Gobi Desert. The biggest fear for women of a certain age, slightly ahead of her husband’s long 'working' weekends accompanied by his pert PA, yes The Son(s) by The Son(s) is like the menopause in surround sound.
Harsh as it may seem, biologically inaccurate too, I’m sticking with the menopause reference. The Son(s) tread an overly familiar, dusty path. It has been done before. I’m sure the first time it happened it was almost interesting, but now you just begrudgingly accept that it occurs. You certainly don’t recommend it to anyone.
Opening track is ‘Dogs, Boys & Men’. Drawl vocals, a bit jaunty, hey there’s almost a chorus hidden somewhere here. Not quite the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, more Sixties cowboy pastiche, but it has only been three minutes. Maybe it’s just the undercoat.
I’d heard a bit about this record beforehand, through word of mouth and a few positive reviews. With the resultant expectations generated I was desperate to get something from this record, a jaw dropping hook, a moment of inspiration, or something completely out of left field to smack me square in the chops and justify the buzz. It didn’t come. Every song is the same, except the first track. Plodding along, accompanied by lethargic finger picking guitar and about six million vocal overdubs to get those ethereal harmonies.
‘Dogs, Boys & Men’ is a false start. The record goes from the 100 metre sprint to that funny walking marathon where it looks like everyone has shat themselves. Yeah I can watch it, but I don’t see myself making it to the end of the race. It’s not like they’ll speed up. They aren’t even doing something remarkable that would require years of craft and dedication. They’re walking. Yes, ever so slightly faster than normal, but if I want to see that I just look at commuters in the morning. If it wasn’t for the kind of car crash induced rubber-necking that someone has shat themselves in public, then I wouldn’t watch any of it.
The Son(s) almost remind me of Love, but in contrast to Arthur Lee & co, there is no impetus or any hint of menace behind the melodies. The record has also been likened to Grizzly Bear, which I can see. For The Son(s) also lack any drive. It is music to stroke your chin and quietly pontificate, coffee table music. Yes it’s drenched in harmonies, though they don’t enhance anything. They are more of a distraction from the fact that there aren’t any songs here. Sure if they’d weighted the album a bit better and offered some variety, I might not be tearing it apart so much. It’s just that there is no balance. It’s just one long, kind of stoned, drawn out funeral procession for someone you don’t like.
Surprisingly for a band with so much self-enhanced mystery, fashionably elusive, there isn’t any personality here on show. It is a one dimensional amalgamation of what you should like. I’m sure some people will enjoy this record, and not just because they were surreptitiously brainwashed by music bloggers - though does that make them right? In some people’s eyes maybe. Though a lot of people liked David Cameron, and look where that got us.
4Andrew Kennedy's Score