It’s funny how you end up judging American bands by where they come from. If Tsar had been from New York or Detroit or Texas, for instance, I would have banged their CD on straight away and expected to enjoy it. However, these guys hail from LA, a city with a somewhat dubious rock n roll past, and thus I approached this single with a certain amount of caution.
A caution which paid off as it turns out as, from my Sonic Youth addled point of view at least, Tsar aren’t very good.
“I Don’t Wanna Break up” is a fast paced foottapping tune and all, and you get the idea that they might once have been a reasonably entertaining Greenday-style punk-lite band. Nothing special though, and now the evil record company scum have got a hold of them, all hope is lost.
The producer, one Rob Cavallo of Green Day & Goo Goo Dolls ‘fame’, has gone all out to turn the songs on this EP into utterly generic ‘alt-rock’. The jangly tambourines and glam rock riffs are so clean and swooshy they make “Learning to Fly” by the Foo Fighters sound like raw punk fury, and the guitar solos seem to have come straight from some scary parallel world where Motley Crue are revered as rock visionaries.
The song titles (“Calling all Destroyers” and “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die”) suggest that they might be somehow exciting, but sadly, in addition to the fucked up sound, they’re decidedly lacking in such necessities as decent tunes, interesting lyrics or indeed any sense of momentum at all. The whole thing reeks of corporate blandness, which means it’ll probably sell rather well to those folks out there in FM radioland who like the Foo’s but find, say, Crashland too noisy and experimental.
Oh, and according to the press release, the singer has been compared to ‘a mod version of Leonardo Dicaprio’ which is hardly going to help matters. C’est La Vie.
4Ben Haggar's Score