Review Summary: A respectable but inconsistent affair that characterizes the "taking a lifetime to write" cliche.
By this point everyone knows the well-known cliche about “having a lifetime to write your first album.” While the phrase is generally used to explain the ‘sophomore slump’, the phrase is particularly descriptive of Them Clones’ debut album. The band was formed in the year 2000, but it took them nearly a decade to put out an LP. In the intervening time-period, the band’s members went from wet-behind-the-ears teenagers and early-twenty-somethings to men on the cusp of their thirties, all the while writing and recording songs that provide what turns out to be an accidental and candid snapshot of the band and its members as they progressed from rock neophytes to veterans of India’s vague and fickle music-scene. The inexorable march of time and the onset of maturity are all too apparent, for better and worse, on love.hate.heroes.
No doubt due to the changing musical tastes and influences of the band as they aged, the music takes some fairly large stylistic jumps and the album plays in a rather unpredictable and inconsistent manner in terms of pacing and mood. The first section of the album, consisting of The Bomb Song
and Follow The Prophet
, gives way to the second section, which consists of the gentler pop-rock stylings of Colour
, and Horizon
, before shifting gears again into a more aggressive funk-metal mode on My Life
, and then returning to pop on the album closers One Way Through
. The combined effect is that the band sounds like it has a little bit of an identity crisis.
Them Clones (as the rather sly Alice In Chains reference will attest to) are obviously influenced by 90s alt-rock and are at different points reminiscent of everyone from Rage Against the Machine to The Gin Blossoms. One assumes that the heavier songs on the album were written earlier in the band’s history because they display somewhat underdeveloped songcraft. These songs depend more on the fizzy-fuzzy energy of the guitars to carry them than hooks. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any hooks in these songs, but rather that the hooks are inconsistent. Each song has a balance of somewhat boring and unmemorable sections, and memorable hooky sections. While Downer
, The Bomb Song
and the somewhat cliche’d My Life
are decent offerings, it’s only on Follow The Prophet
that the band hits its stride, resulting in the only real highlight from the ‘heavy’ sections of the album. Follow The Prophet
opens quietly in a manner reminiscent of Motherlovebone before losing a little steam during its choruses, but redeems itself with a powerhouse final section.
However, the band’s improving skills as tunesmiths assert themselves as the album progresses and this becomes particularly evident on the softer numbers. It’s hard to believe that the band producing the Keane-ish piano-driven pop of Colour
and One Way Through
is the same band throwing out aggro riffs on My Life
, but the band sounds most comfortable on the quiet moments and there are hooks galore on these sections. Vocalist Pritwish Dev comes alive on these sections as his soulful tenor suits the quiet songs far better than the grungier songs. Awaken
manages to combine both the gentle and aggressive side of the band and channel them in a synergistic direction and would probably be the best song on the album if it wasn’t for the pure pop bliss heard in the stop-start dynamics and swelling choruses of Horizon
, and the sighing melody and minor-key chord-changes of Zephyretta
. These two tracks are the best songs that the Goo Goo Dolls never wrote for “Dizzy Up The Girl”.
In the end, what you hear on love.hate.heroes in terms of musical evolution is probably what you’d expect to hear from other bands over the course of two or three albums. Love.hate.heroes has a lot going for it, and despite being an inconsistent affair, even the weaker sections of the album are more than palatable because the band changes gears before the album has a chance of slipping into a monotonous rut.
Follow the Prophet