When Gatsbys American Dream went on hiatus in late 2006, I was hopeful the members of the band would continue producing music with side projects and other bands. I can't say I was disappointed, as every member of the band has been involved in one project or another.
Vocalist Nic Newsham went on to create promising power-pop in a project called RedRedBlue, (though unfortunately only three demos have been released so far) drummer Rudy Gajadhar went on to play drums on the upcoming Forgive Durden record and bassist/vocalist Kirk Huffman and keyboardist Kyle O'Quin went to create two vastly different projects; Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground which resembles 60's pop like The Kinks and The Beatles, and the psychedelic/blues-rock influenced Wild Orchid Children.
This leaves us with two members, Guitarists Bobby Darling and Ryan Van Wieringen. Van Wieringen left the band after Gatbsys sophomore album, Ribbons & Sugar
, but rejoined them on tour dates after the release of the band's self-titled album. After the band went on hiatus they started working with former Acceptance guitarist Kaylan Cloyd, and started working on The Compound
as a three piece, With Van Wieringen handling vocals. When I heard about this project I was wondering what direction this would go in, given the complex but poppy music they had written in Gatsbys American Dream, and expected them to continue on a similar path. With Search/Rescue however, the band tries to evoke a much more accessible and mainstream pop/rock sound, which would be best described as marriage between bands like Acceptance and Coldplay. This isn't inherently bad of course, but given the fact that two out of three members wrote totally different music, it raises the question of whether or not they could pull this off well.
Well, they can and they can't. Half of the songs on the record are good and well executed, the other half just isn't very memorable. The songwriting doesn't carry any surprises with the standard song structure every song follows, but on some songs this is executed with memorable hooks, where on the other tracks they recycle the same hooks but only do it half as effectively. This also causes the record to lack any variety. All of the songs are mid-tempo rockers drowned in reverb and/or delay, often accompanied by a simple underlying keyboard melody. As there is no variation throughout the ten songs, the samey sound of the album gets very weary on the listener.
While this can't be musically compared to Gatsbys, unfortunately the same can be said about the lyrics, which are subpar throughout the entire record. Where Gatsbys had fantastic lyrics full of wit and satire, this is the kind of self indulgent writing excercised by a lot of their peers. While I could give out a number of examples, I think the line "Keep you inside, yeah, yeah, locked up for all time in the darkness of my mind.
" is quite sufficient.
Fans of Gatsbys obviously don't need to look here to find anything similar, and fans of this type of music wouldn't be very satisfied either. Let's hope they can make a more qualitatively consistent but musically varied effort the next time around.