Review Summary: Clay Stones marks an electronic band suffocating all of their potential with far too many similarities to a certain electronic artist.
The Swedish brother-sister duo, Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer, formed The Knife
in 1999, and have since been known for their distinct sound full of pretense and somewhat experimental tendencies. And since their sound has been awarded with several awards (primarily Swedish Grammis), it is no surprise that crops of imitators have been popping up, each one more derivative than the last. In this spirit, We Are The World is no different. Evoking far too many similarities to the Swedish siblings, this electronic outfit is just another impersonator who play it safe and have mixed results because of it. Their electropop style rarely strays from the sidewalk, and their sound is far too eerily similar to be truly enjoyable, thus making familiarity the foremost flaw on Clay Stones
We Are The World's debut is certainly mimetic of the aforementioned artist, featuring dark electronics, cold percussion freak-outs, and heavily treated vocals; hell, even its structure is a carbon-copy. Dramatic overtones, pitch shifts, and almost a cynical use of electronics seem to have been taken from the Dreijer's bag of tricks. Shaky synths on "Afire", dark vocal interplay on the title track, and the first half of the album shows one of the more distinct electronic artist's work being "dumbed-down", as if to play it safe and give We Are The World's audience a sense of familiarity. Granted, the opener's world-conscious, bass-heavy sound is catchy, using dominating electric noises to compliment the band's pop sensibilities. Cold tones from German Post World War Two German Elektronische Muzik are evident, but they're so well-integrated that the sound seems like it came straight from one of Los Angeles's nightclubs. If the sound wasn't so "been-there-done-that", the icy gloss and constant mash of genres would be acceptable, if not completely catchy. But for now, it will just be an almost
-tolerable rehash, perhaps worthy of "guilty pleasure" status. Fortunately, Clay Stones
does have more potential than it seems.
While most of the tracks on Clay Stones
are tedious displays of plagiarism, "Clover and Dirt" marks a turning point for We Are The World, one that shows an apposite artistic direction for them. The cantankerous and abrasive take on synthpop is a refreshing turn of events for the menacing first half and all of its glossy over-compartmentalization. Fortunately, We Are The World aren't completely
tepid and safe, venturing outside of "polished" and into "damaged". Most notable on the artsy instrumental "Sweet Things Are So Hard" and the harsh yet anthemic "Goya Monster", We Are The World do occasionally
bounce from The Knife's manufactured sheen and into boisterous, genuinely experimental techno music. It is here where Clay Stones
stops being catchy and starts to show its world-conscious electric feel. Hopefully these ideas will be explored later in time, but for now, We Are The World is suffocating all of their potential with far too many similarities to a certain electronic artist.