The job of an album reviewer is never harder than when addressing a record like Welcome (If Only) by Suburban Myth. I’m willing to give everything a fair shake, except music that falls into any of these categories: derivative; boring; inconsequential. Is there any worth tearing into an album that’s plainly not aimed at somebody like me?
There’s certainly no point in me slating anyone for liking MOR rock. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions on music, however eccentric, and if you want to like Nickelback it’s not down to me to explain why you shouldn’t. There’s a Matchbox Twenty video with over ten million views on Youtube so there’s every chance I’m wrong about this, though the popularity argument faces its most dangerous enemy in the words ‘Mr Blobby: Christmas number one’.
All I can tell you is what I think of it, and for more reasons than the word count will allow I can’t bloody stand it. There are tunes on this album that would have old men in leather slowly making the horns, hesitating because they’re worried they’re being hoodwinked into listening to a marketing man’s idea of what ‘rock’ sounds like. Not any particular type of rock mind you – not hard rock or pop rock, garage rock or even hair rock – but just ‘rock’, so utterly dull it can’t be categorised any deeper. “What beer is that?” “Beer.” “But what is it – lager? Bitter? Stout? Ginger?” “Just beer.” “Oh.”
The interminable lyrics are the biggest issue of all. ‘No, no, not again, I don’t want the day to end / Oh no, not again, just can’t comprehend / Close my eyes I see the night / It draws me closer still / Close my eyes I’m hypnotised / It draws me in, in for the kill / Yeeeeeeaaaaahhhhhhh!’ What? There are attempts at war-like imagery, national pride, flags – uniquely American concerns – plus doomed love and everything else you’d expect from a band out of South Carolina and out of ideas. Bizarrely a number of tracks fade out while Derek Daisey is still howling on about a ‘cool cat in the glass’ or similar gibberish. I thought they’d banned fading out like that in the early 90s.
Yes, I am very clear that I have a problem with this tepid form of music, the genre as much as the album. But is this a good album in this style? I don’t know. It probably ticks a lot of boxes if you like Hootie & the Blowfish and you’ve never heard of the Afghan Whigs. You might be in the wrong place if so, both figuratively and literally.
The singer in a band called The Jezabels recently decried music critics who write negative reviews as failed musicians themselves who shouldn’t write at all if they have nothing positive to say. I’ve picked up a musical instrument as often as I have a cricket bat and believe me I’m equally happy not to be making a tit of myself on stage or record as I am not to have been part of England’s latest failure in whites. There will be people who like this album, but I hate it. Buy it or don’t, but don’t say you weren’t warned.