Review Summary: Top quality early-2000s pop-punk, minus the commercial sheen, with a nice sideline in Smiths and Misfits influences.
Ever wondered what would happen if Morrissey
and Glenn Danzig
somehow defied the basic laws of human biology and had a love-child? I'm hardly expecting that many people to answer "yes" to that question, but after listening to Death on Wednesday
's debut (and only) full-length album, Buying the Lie
, you'd be half-inclined to think it's already happened, as vocalist Nate Lawler constantly veers between the gruff crooning and bellowing of everyone's favourite "evil-elvis," and the soft, mournful lilt of the much lauded Smiths
frontman throughout this rather impressive collection of songs.
However, it's not just the vocals that betray the band's influences; they practically wear them on their sleeves throughout. Who Sold the Soul?
, is a bouncy little number which harks back to the genesis of rock n' roll in the 1950s, and were it not for the modern-day production, you could almost believe the song was actually from that era. Coincidentally, such early rock music was the main inspiration for The Misfits
, another heavy influence on Death on Wednesday
, in their use of simple three or four chord structures and as I mentioned earlier, strong vocal presence. And if you somehow didn't pick up on the all Morrissey
-love going on, they've even included a (pretty spot-on) cover of The Smiths
just to ram the point home.
Something which many at first suprise the listener is the inclusion of a more familiar face in the band's lineup - that of drummer Jorma Vik, now playing with The Bronx
. However, listening back over the record, his trademark driving, heavy drumming style is present in pretty much every track, and even the intro to Stranded
is inflected with a hint of the riffy, stomping punk that Mr. Vik went on to play with his current band.
All comparisons aside, it's important to note that, at heart, Buying the Lie
is a solid pop-punk album, a point made well by energetic opener If You Want
, complete with all the trusty chords, fast tempos, and catchy guitar and vocal melodies indicative of the genre, but it's the band's ability to blend this pop-punk with the wide variety of influences I've mentioned above that elevates this album, and the band itself, way above its peers. Put simply, I can't think of one band who have a sound close to these guys'. And while, on paper, the idea of Morrissey
fronting a punk band sounds ridiculous, such a sound actually works amazingly well.
That said, the album isn't perfect by any means. Personally, I'd like to hear bassist Kevin Smith (no, not THAT one!), doing a little more than the root notes and very occasional descending fills he seems to stick to, and aside from the anti-MTV stance of the aforementioned Who Sold the Soul?
,the lyrics are a little too depressing and samey for my liking, but these are small gripes with what is, despite the odd duff track, an amazing, and very original sounding debut album. Its a shame that they never managed to follow this up with anything more than one short EP (which I can't seem to find anywhere) before splitting up, but nevertheless, Buying the Lie
holds up the band's short-lived legacy well, and is definitely worth looking for.
If You Want
Who Sold the Soul?
MY RATING -----> 4/5