Review Summary: As a denizen of Sputnik, I feel compelled to make a public service announcement:
A visit to Modern Superstitions' official website will currently yield nothing more than a short message which - despite a serious lack of length - somehow manages to be bold, ambitious, and rather sheepish all at once.
That message is, "Under Construction", and - quite unsurprisingly - it also represents the best bit of summary analysis that one can give this four-piece band from Toronto. It requires some serious effort, but upon repeated listens of this EP it gradually becomes clear that one might actually be tuning in to Ontario's answer to Mother Mother, as All The Things We've Been Told
packs much of the same hypnotic punch and sassy style which has made the B.C. quintet such a compelling artist to listen to. Taking the initiative and building on a promising sound, Modern Superstitions then further underscores their melodic abilities with some solid song-writing and excellent technical work, which is particularly evident on the record's catchy and beat-laden numbers like "Beck & Call" and "Visions of You". In Nyssa Rosaleen Modern Superstitions have also found an excellent vocalist who is constantly sleek and enchantingly electric, even during the record's weak moments - and it is fair to say that there are actually a fair few of them.
For one, it has to be said that the overall sound which Modern Superstitions have produced for this EP doesn't really vary all that much; more bafflingly, it sometimes even contrives to sound a bit forced - which is quite deflating to observe as the record is actually only some 20 minutes long. The dynamic sense of chemistry on All The Things We've Been Told
is also heavily undermined by the band's severe lack of a unique performative identity: indeed, virtually everything on the record - from guitarist Matthew Aldred's tuned-down guitar to Zack Burgess' staccato drumming (although polished and very well done) - is really just a re-charting of territory that we're all probably too familiar with already. It really is quite a shame to watch this EP lurch around from start to finish, willfully presenting itself as a machine that repeatedly churns out tired and well-used hooks, despite the omnipresent veil of youthful zeal and dynamic energy that surrounds it.
In other words, a photocopier by any other name is still a photocopier.
But if I had to put a descriptive tag on this release, I would suggest that All The Things We've Been Told
be labeled as "the sound of a new band being born". It is a solid and thoroughly commendable effort, but will ultimately only be remembered as the record which made it unequivocally clear to Modern Superstitions that their next studio release will be the one that either elevates them to super-stardom or condemns them to relative obscurity. Still, it is most comforting to ultimately realize that beyond the riotous heart of this misshapen EP is the unmistakable soul of a band getting ready to make a serious attempt for the summit - and to get it wholly right this time.
Sputnik - and the rest of the world - should watch this space.
Author's Note: This review can also be found on my personal blog (at the address http://snuffleupagush.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/who-are-who-are-who-are-you/).