A complete absence of originality spoils this set from the Brooklyn four-piece.
Brad Barrett 2011-10-03
Representing the almost omnipresent slacker aesthetic with an Angelfire website, which is funny but actually pretty irritating, and a sound casually borrowed from a range of fuzzy popsters from Best Coast to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Big Troubles truly have nothing to say.
Their tunes on this, their second long-play set, are pretty in parts but are merely exhaled out with an awful affected whispered voice. You expect them to be wearing sunglasses in the studio while mouthing into mics. Sad Girls is the best example of this – not to mention one of the better melodies on offer. But this isn't even the worst thing about Big Troubles. It's the over-familiarity compounded by the minimal effort demonstrated on each and every song.
Minor Keys sounds like a photocopy of an intro riff from mid-period Cure with vocal melodies oddly direct from Billy Corgan's calmer, new-wave moments. Admittedly, it's a song you can quite happily tap your toes to. As the album goes on, it's difficult to understand how they've taken clearly great sounds and lovely little melodic ideas and refused to do anything new with them at all. Time Bomb positively implodes with loud guitars at the beginning, but the insipid vocals waft the entire thing to death. Softer Than Science could be anything dreamily crafted with cloud-like guitars from 2009.
There's something enormously frustrating about a record like this. It absorbs so much from what has been heard countless times before, and then drags the songs to their knees in despair thanks to a casual dismissal of what it takes to drive songs to a place worthy of them being a vehicle in the first place. It's perhaps only opener She Smiles for Pictures which really pulls out a child-like guitar line that sounds like them above any influences – but it's the least fun or pleasant hook on the album. So, borderline pastiche really is preferable – but it feels like there could've been so much more here. Minor Keys is probably the best homage and, along with the slight malevolence of Sad Girls, is one of only two songs really worth your time. Even then, it's disappointing how easily they'll slip under the hundreds of songs like them in your collection.
Big Troubles seem happy to drift along in a melancholic haze or a sun-drenched lackadaisical dream and let their well-produced but ultimately forgettable songs dissipate around them. They wouldn't be the first ones to do so, though, and they certainly won't be the last either.