I'll guess wildly and think that they've gone into the studio and felt a bit of pressure, and not really gone further than presenting a cleaned up version of their live shows
OK, I want to get one thing straight. I write this as someone who is disappointed. Not someone who looks to do a hatchet job or show what a different, difficult fucker I am. Not my style. You see, I really, really like Afterpartees; a fondness that has been built on watching them live (especially that fizzing performance at Best Kept Secret) and loving their first single First/Last; which hinted at SO much. They have a cheekiness about them that is infectious. And when they hit their buzzy stride, watching them is akin to riding a dodgem at the fair. Colourful, daft, bumpy but most of all, fun. Loads of fun.
But somehow this LP just bustles along in second gear and stays there. Listening in is like sitting in the passenger seat of an old 2 cylinder car on the Autobahn. Yeah, initially it's groovy and we can strike poses but after a while things become very clear that attitudes aren't enough. We just want to get to wherever we're going, and fast. And get out. Apart from a brief spurt with the last song Red Bull, (and bits in First/Last, and the indisputably brilliant song Lilly) where somehow things really click and the sound stops being all flirty with itself, I increasingly wonder what the band want; a nice clean pop record or goggle eyed rock in the style of their gigs. Maybe they want that popular, poppy sound that will help them ride a wave. But even so, that guitar run on Candy Color Wearin Weirdos should make your ears pop. It's far too prissy and 'just so'. And there's a lot of prissiness on here. Bugger.
I listen to their first single First/Last, which has so much poise, and cheek and vim, and it's produced by the same lad who did the album; Roel Blommers. So what happened here? At times, especially with the middle run of songs, it honestly sounds as if they recorded on a 4 track. The guitars plough the same furrow, and the drums plod on bravely. Singer (and main spark) Niek Nellen's vocals are squeezed to the front, almost like toothpaste out of a tube; so much so that after about 5 songs his Peter Perrett-style mannerisms really start to grate. And that's a shame. Especially when the lyrics play coy, self-reverential games with old rawk conventions, like on Gucci Ballad or on Wonderwall Floating. You can't escape their workmanlike nature, and the sort of 'Gabriel Ernest' / Action Woman mystery Nellen brings to them in a live setting is utterly erased. Drive-In Saturday it's not.
Bizarrely for an album which offers such thin gruel from potentially rich ingredients, we have stuff thrown in that is utterly unecessary. That bloody triangle on Gucci Ballad for example. Or that toy casio thing on Stuck on The Nightshift? And WHAT on earth is that piano doing floating about the back of Bathroom Floor? Is this a gang show?
That's enough. As I said, they really have something, and anyone who sees them live is immediately aware of that. OK, I'll guess wildly and think that they've gone into the studio and felt a bit of pressure, and not really gone further than presenting a cleaned up version of their live shows; relying on tricks that get them through gigs. I'm guessing here.
Pished off I felt the need to write this.