Sometimes, y'know, I'm prone to a bit of self-examination. No, no, you foul-minded individual, not the kind of self-examination that involves washing your clammy little hands afterwards (although I shouldn't discourage it…just don't do it in public or shake hands with me before hitting the soap, OK?). Delving deeper into my psyche to see what lies beneath the veneer of outward respectability is what I refer to. Oft times, I do this when I think I'm too critical of others. Should I maintain such a cold view of what my fellow Homo Sapiens do and say?
The answer, so far as the hallowed pages of the Evilsponge go, of course, is...well, of course. It's what music review is all about. One man's Meatloaf is another man's "Poison", unless you actually happen to Alice Cooper, in which case it isn't. Are you with me?
Anyhow, before you start eyeing the kitchen knives and pondering the true value of hari kari, I'll press on to my main point: objectivity.
Objectivity is a difficult thing to maintain when it comes to musical taste. Yes, we all like to think we can be balanced when it comes to critiquing the musical output of this or that artist, but we know, deep in our hearts, that we really want to shout either praise or derision from the top of the highest building and feel better for it. What you see in the words below is my attempt to be balanced, although I am stealing the odd glance towards the elevator.
First up for me in my latest batch of review discs is the eponymous, self-produced CD from Glimmer Kids. This Californian two-piece band consists of singer Jimm Glimm and musician/co-writer Simon (no surname given – perhaps it's Rhymon? Just a thought).
Bear with me, gentle reader, whilst I switch on the diplomacy auto-pilot. There we are...now if the stewardess would just get her act in order and arrive with the lunch trolley....
Frankly, after reading the PR sheet that accompanied the CD, I was disappointed. My expectations were raised by this piece of text: "When the pair [Simon and Glimm] started writing together...all rules, formulas (sic) and preconceived notions were left at the door." Hmm...in that case, some wag must have snuck in and injected them back into the heads of our protagonists.
The album kicks off quite promisingly with Star Song. Mildly hooky, with a vague flavour of now-defunct British band Suede. Glimm's not a bad singer and, although no virtuoso, Simon's playing is solid and tight. This wouldn't be out of place on the play list of most radio stations, although it wouldn't smack me between the eyes.
But that, eager Spongee, is as good as it gets. What follows is yet more of the same bland distorted guitars and straight drum machine patterns. My Little Sin kicks off with a riff that is the distant cousin of Nirvana's Come As You Are, but fails to inspire. Glimm's voice also serves only to irritate and by track four, Buy You, it positively grates on the nerves.
In fact, most the vocal melodies are almost interchangeable with the previous or following songs. The bands claim that their sound has "evolved into something extra-ordinary" is well wide of the mark, I'm afraid. Ordinary is how I'd describe this CD in every way. Cliché-ridden and formulaic from start to end, it fails to ignite my interest in any way.
The CD closes with a competent cover of The Cars' Just What I Needed, which brings me neatly what the Glimmer Kids actually need.
As I've said, Glimm is not a bad singer, but he should look at varying his style, working on some layered harmonies and developing an ear for melodic construction that extends beyond the limitations he seems to have set for himself. Simon can play, although nothing here really shows what he might be ultimately capable of. One can only take so much of Deep Purple-esque chord sequences. I'm assuming (rightly or wrongly) that Simon puts the music together whilst Glimm writes the lyrics. In that case, I'd suggest that Simon hooks in another musician to co-write the music with him and steer the whole shebang into another area. Glimm's voice is not different enough to divert the listener's attention away from the music.
Glimmer Kids is not bad, but not good either. The lads' music seems to float their own boat and hey -– self-belief is half of the battle. I have no doubt about their ability and style developing beyond the point they're at now, but they need a third "Kid" with some writing, arranging and, even, some vocal ability to kick them onto the next level. They could start with one small detail –- try writing in radically different keys. Structuring every song within such a narrow scale is what makes this album sound so homogenous and samey. Glimm and Simon need to look further than being average and grasp what will truly make them extraordinary.
It's hard to be objective when an album impels the listener to reach regularly to the "skip" button, as I did for the whole of this disc. With some expansion in both personnel, scale-range and style, the Glimmer Kids could have the listener reaching instead for the "repeat" button.