By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Remember that anti-drug commercial with that really hot chick who goes nuts and trashes a kitchen with a frying pan? The ad hit you over the head with its message: Drugs are bad. Well, the British band Electrasy has issued a counterpoint. Their new album, In Here We Fall, also hits you over the head with its message: Drugs are good. You don't even have to listen to the album--just look at it. The disc features a photo of one of the young lads twisting a fatty; lift the disc to reveal another photo...now he's smoking it! The packaging only hints at the mindless drivel inside. Guitarist and lead songwriter Nigel Nisbet doesn't have much to say, outside of the fact that he and the boys love getting fucked up.
The disc is Electrasy's second full-length effort, and its first for Arista--home of Ace of Base and Kenny G, if that tells you anything. It's a hodgepodge of styles: At times they crib from contemporaries Oasis and Travis, several songs are reminiscent of such alt-pop lightweights as Spacehog and Jesus Jones, and still others are obvious nods to the Stones and Zeppelin. (There's even a Britpop version of "Dazed and Confused," which I'm not sure we ever needed--Robert Plant's career is turning over in its grave.) And to add a 21st-century twist, there's a healthy dose of synthesizers, which kind of sound like the cutting-edge stuff Renegade Soundwave was doing a decade ago.
Vocalist Ali McKinnell does his best Liam Gallagher, but his nasal whine is so thin that it has to be drenched with an array of digital effects. When you can decipher what McKinnell is singing, it's almost always about drugs. The opening cut, "Renegades," describes a place "where the aliens get high"; in the power ballad "Naked," he's "all fucked up and all alone"; in "Bussed Out"--a standard-issue band-on-the-road lament--he wants "just one more drug for me to get high on before I die"; and in the hip-hop flavored "Special Forces," he instructs his woman to "snort cocaine and I'll lick it off you." The title track pretty much sums it up: McKinnell croons over a Dokken-esque bass line, "I've got nothing to do but get stoned."
It's probably good that Electrasy sticks with the subject matter they know best. When they delve into romance, they come up with puzzling lyrics like, "Oh my Angel, you're made in England, oh so well." What? The first single off the album, "Morning Afterglow," and the closing track, "Cry," are the kind of schlocky love ballads that Aerosmith have made a living on for the last 20 years. The former conjures up images of Limey teenagers slow-dancing at the Liverpool High senior prom. You can't really blame Electrasy. They just want so badly to be liked; they need you to think they're cool. They're the ugly girl at the party, stumbling into every guy and exclaiming, "Oh, my God, I am so drunk!" You kind of feel sorry for them, but not enough to take them home.