The Noise Pop Duo's second album cranks up the sound and inflates their ego, but do they lose their voice along the way?
The Brooklyn based Noise pop duo release their second album following the acclaimed "Treats" in 2010, and have not been quiet about it. Their publicist claimed that it was a collection of "songs that are as crushing and authoritative as their title suggests ... the sonic equivalent of a beautiful shotgun to the head" while Alexis Krauss, lead vocalist, insisted that the EP "sounds really huge." Mighty claims from the terrible twosome who only formed 4 years ago when Derek Mills, producer and brainchild behind the project, met Krauss while waiting tables in New York. After signing to M.I.A's N.E.E.T. Recordings, releasing their debut album, and performing at legendary electro-Americana stomping ground 'Coachella', the group hope that their latest EP will prove themselves as the flag-flyers for guitar-clash pop.
But of the 11 ambitious tracks, attempting to bridge the gap between Aerosmith and Depeche Mode, only a handful seem to leave any lasting impressions other than blowing out every speaker in the house. The album opens with the ode to '80s stadium rock: "True Shred Guitar", complete with flailing guitar picking and interjected with Krauss' rhythmic pop exclamations, but the effect of overall maximalism is numbed by the sheer weirdness of the production. Othertimes, this unusual concoction just works - on "Road To Hell", Krauss' softly sweet vocals complement Miller's metal guitar tones, a skill that has obviously been polished in Miller's previous band, the Miami metal-core crew 'Poison the Well'. But the problem with this EP comes with inconsistencies, such as the odd 'Comeback Kid' which starts nuanced and interesting, but transmutates into a baffling and slightly annoying confusion of noise within the space of a minute.
On the self-aggrandising 'Leader Of The Pack', Mills' chugging guitar riffs sit comfortably next to Duran Duran-esque soft synths, while Krauss slides into 60's melodies and lyrics. Krauss tends to coo and sigh vocally throughout the EP, a habit that is both hypnotic and distracting, while chanting platitudes such as "I know it's not over..". But an exception arrives with the brilliant "Crush", with Queen-inspired hand claps pulsating alongside Krauss' riot girl slurs of "I'll break you", a nice detachment from the girl-band pop on "You Lost Me" where the usual lamentings of a failed relationship and self-loathing seem spliced into a kaleidoscope of emotions with Mills' bubbly production.
Overall, while 'Reign Of Terror' may crank up the volume to Spinal Tap levels and show some moody and colourful interjections of Nine-Inch Nails guitar with Britney-flecked vocals, an inconsistency in songwriting and a reliance on shock-pop tactics will leave listeners wanting more than just torn ear-drums.