Noisy rock that your parents could love? It’s not right, but it is brilliant.
Mike Diver 2010-09-22
While I appreciate that this is a rock review you’re reading, I must tell you that Torche rock like few other rockers do. Their rock, mighty though it certainly is, isn’t rock to run from if your MP3 player preferences are outfits of a rather more sedate nature. See, this is rock that rolls with effortless immediacy, rock that conservative listeners could even consider "proper songs", in a designed-for-daytime-radio sense. It’s heavy, it’s loud, it’s triumphant; but it’s also full of the kind of instant-hit melodies the Cowell-created hordes, or rather their writing teams, would gladly garrote fluffy bunnies for.
The Florida trio – a four-piece until ex-Floor man Juan Montoya picked up his ball and left in late 2008, citing that old favourite: creative differences – have seen their music categorised as "thunder pop" in previous critiques. Honestly, it’s a perfect fit for songs that are equally accessible as they are not-so-sporadically sonically akin to an arsenal going up right beside your left lughole. Songs for Singles is a compact, concise introduction to the band. It’s not quite an album – they’ve two under their belts, both superb: 2005’s eponymous debut, released in the UK through Mogwai’s Rock Action label, and 2008’s Meanderthal, which emerged via Hydra Head, a stable co-founded by Aaron Turner, previously of mighty post-metal outfit Isis – but it offers more than a standard between-LPs EP. If it’s your toe in the door, or pool if you prefer, you’ve picked a fine set to begin your love affair with.
With six of these eight cuts clocking in at around two minutes or less, Songs for Singles doesn’t hang about in making its point: that rock, this rock, can be mightily addictive, and that the habit can develop as early as an initial listen. U.F.O., Lay Low and Hideaway have been and gone in the time it takes most albums to warm up; and unlike many a record’s tentative first steps, these efforts are sensory blitzes that beguile with instantaneous effect. The formula might not be a mind-bender – pop songs played through massive amps (seriously, trim the decibels on some of these and you’ve got McFly’s future hit singles), fast but without unnecessary aggression – but the execution is as perfect as you’ll hear. When proceedings do slow, as on the thick drone-haze of Face the Wall, it’s less to provide the listener with a breather, more to allow them to reflect just how faultlessly well formed the preceding vignettes of vital contemporary rock were.
Rock like rock shouldn’t be: a rock that your parents wouldn’t just love, given a chance, but one that they’d ask you to play again, louder. It ain’t right, obviously. But it rocks brilliantly.
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