Ingenuity is not hard to find if you look in the right places. Regardless of how complex one band is, there are still manners of producing something wholly unique. The Minutemen did it, Joy Division did it, and countless other bands have done it. Though, it’s important to keep in mind that individuality does not necessitate quality. When CKY originally started out as Oil and Foreign Objects, they started unique. When they became CKY, they started unique. But when they continued CKY…nothing really happened.
Carver City is the supposable “return to form” for the band assumed from the 5 year writing process. People thought an issue was Roadrunner hindering their ideas, but nonetheless CKY has returned with an album fully their own…which is basically the problem. Nothing has changed in their whole career; they’ve again stuck to their triplet riffs, beginning to sound fairly stale at this point, and effect-driven songs are the main feature once again; however, the band does not seem to know how to progress their sound because one listen to Carver City is enough to allow one to assume they are using ample guitar effects to mask their inability to produce something original.
Hellions On Parade begins with the Escape From Hellview riff played backwards, which is actually a pretty cool idea. Unfortunately the rest of the song is extremely typical of what any other CKY song does, complete with a lackluster chorus, something the band has never really had a knack for in the first place. And She Never Returned is more pleasing of a track as it harkens to the Volume 1 era, but then Rats In The Infirmary is possibly the stupidest song of the year what with the chanting chorus looking like this:
“RATS RATS, They’re living in the infirmary!
RATS RATS, and they’ve been crawling all over me!
RATS RATS, we feed them in the infirmary!
RATS RATS, and they’ve been crawling all over me!”
Lyrically the album doesn’t differ from any of their previous outputs, but you have to wonder why this track is even on the album at all because the music holds no redemption.
The middle of the album is truly the only enjoyable area, introducing a relatively nostalgic element, possibly the one concept CKY has always excelled. Keyboards galore are spurred throughout the album but are put to actual use in these four middle tracks. Imaginary Threats features enjoyable melodic lead sections, The Boardwalk Body is just well-arranged amongst every instrument present (specifically drums and keys) and easily the best track on the record. Plagued By Images sounds like a complete rehash of Shock And Terror with an addition of jaded vocal lines, but the keyboard breakdowns are gorgeous, and then Karmaworks is just a nice, calmer track. But once Woe Is Me begins, the album dies. You might think Old Carver’s Bones will be a cool track with its evil riffing until they drag the song out far past its interest, and The Era Of An End is yet another attempt at an epic closer they’ve always done but falls on its face by using generic lyrics and trying far too hard to come across as meaningful.
CKY, in order to denounce their stagnation, needs to learn to experiment not with guitar effects but with songwriting, something they could easily strive for as they already have a wholly unique sound. As they stand now, however, they are merely trying to get by with a clutter of songs that don’t stand apart from anything else CKY has done, so now all one can hope for is that this actually is the “end of an era”.