Review Summary: An unfortunate step for a band who I thought could do no wrong; they in fact could, but somehow have managed to make the blow a little less forceful.
The excellent EP Miles
by Australian rock outfit The Vasco Era was seemingly a huge milestone for the band, and in their efforts to build upon the EP, and perhaps top it, they’ve unfortunately gone wayward. Oh We Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside
, the bands first LP, tried to improve on their successful EP debut, but rather than keep the elements which made them so attractive, they’ve satiated them to the point where it just doesn’t seem to work.
The noticeable blues influence the band began with is still very much apparent on …Seaside, but the band has seemingly dulled down their unique and sharp edged sound in favour of something a little more mainstream, a little more accessible, and ultimately a lot more bland. The intricacy and balance between Sid's ferocious approach to blues rock and his knack at writing superb songs is not apparent at all in this overblown album that really seems inferior besides its much shorter predecessor.
The first and one of the most important things to note, is that rather than giving us a variety of moods and melodies, …Seaside gives us either the same fuzzy and dry ‘you’ve heard it before’ rock moments, or bland attempts at mellow, ‘you’ve also heard it before’ emotive rock. To be blunt, a lot of the songs are all over the place, a sloppy mix of guitar tunes and vocals which bounce around in your head and come out leaving no memorable traces behind.
I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit harsh so far in my critique, but other than a few moments in which the band does shine, …Seaside really does not succeed in the same way Miles
did. Songs like ‘When We Tried To Party To Forget About It’ show some nice song-writing gleaming out of the mess, but overall doesn’t really save this album from itself. Sid’s vocals, which originally were full of emotion, aggression, and brisk arrogance, still hint towards this aforementioned state, but sound a lot whinier than they used to be, and actually got on my nerves. More than once his voice would break, which I don’t think happened at all on Miles
‘When We Forgot To Ask Ourselves Why It Ever Came’ is reminiscent of what Miles
had achieved, and is one of the better songs on …Seaside, showcasing a subtle symmetry between catchy riffs, wailing screams, and softer head-nodding moments. A success of a song, which was then duplicated in an attempt to make a success of an album, conversely resulting in a repetitive album which would have been much more successful had it been about half as long.
The Vasco Era has not completely failed with Oh We Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside
, but in all honesty have taken a few steps back from their debut EP. It isn’t that the album itself has failed to create good music, just that it was, in comparison to previous work, made ‘less good’. Perhaps this was not a conscious decision to become more commercially viable as I had originally suspected, but the same effect has been reached, ending up with what is a band that is not quite there in fully knowing themselves, and not quite playing to the best of their abilities. Still, keep an eye on them; I feel the best is yet to come.