Post-Humanistic StyleBy Daniel J. Katz
If every song on Tin Star’s debut album, The Thrill Kisser (V2), were as solid as its first two tracks, the British trio would have an absolute blockbuster on their hands. Unfortunately, the disc winds down gradually, and while it’s still a solid album, it suffers from a bit too much ambience for its own good.
Tin Star features a vocalist, a guitarist, a bassist, and a whole mess of synthesizer work. (Note the lack of a human drummer; machines hold up the rhythm section for this band.) There’s a great one-two punch at the beginning of the album. The first single, “Head,” is an infectiously catchy rock song with a bassy groove and creative lyrics that should touch the hearts of MIT students (“I’ve got to write my exams today, read my books, turned up on time, but I haven’t revised”). It’s followed by the best song I’ve heard this year, “Disconnected Child,” a five minute opus which begins with a calm melody and pulsing rhythm until it explodes into an intense dance track. For best comparison, imagine the Crystal Method remixing Madonna’s “Ray of Light” with the aid of a guitar on serious overdrive.
For a while, Tin Star continues its hopping from rock to electronica and back, ranging from the sonic battle cry of “Viva,” the soothing combination of light guitar and orchestral synthesizers in “Raincheck,” and the driving keyboards (yes, that’s apparently possible) of “Going Slow.”
It’s around this point, however, that the rock vanishes, and the band decides to try to be Massive Attack. Don’t get me wrong, ambient Tin Star is enjoyable, but sometimes it tends toward monotony (especially in songs like “Wonderful World”), and more importantly, it wastes the talent the band shows when the volume is up. An exception to this rule is the closing track, “Destruction,” a trippy ballad which, despite being the slowest and quietest song on the album, packs a lot of power into each chorus.
One other fault with the album is the repetitive tendency to use steadily repeated high notes as rhythm. It’s not annoying at first, but after a while, it sounds like a garbage truck is backing up into every song.
I actually really like this album, and I recommend it highly; my only complaint is that it leaves you wanting more, and there are several songs present that scream to be replaced with a more suitable follow-up to “Head.” Go out and buy The Thrill Kisser if you like synthesizer-based music (or even if you just like alternative rock), but don’t be surprised if you find yourself repeatedly skipping through the same parts of the album. The highlights are modern rock at its most modern, and I cry, “Viva la revolution!”