Taken individually, this is a treat. The band thinks of some good riffs (ie. “Tell Me When It’s Over”) and good basslines (ie. “That’s What You Always Say”). They emit a youthful exuberance made tangible by the post-punk energy (ie. “Definitely Clean” and “Then She Remembers”); a couple of these songs sound like a slightly dirtier version of something off Crazy Rhythms. And they play music because they love music; they sound so happy to have finally signed onto a label and made a dream a reality that it’s practically impossible not to be happy listening to it (ie. “The Days of Wine and Roses”). Barring the obligatory Nico imitation, “Too Little, Too Late,” whose climax is exactly what the title says, the superfluous coda of “Halloween” and “When You Smile,” which offers no reason to listen to over “Heroin” (which it quotes, no less), nothing here is bad.
But as a whole, this is music to like and not to love; the sum is far worse than its parts. The Velvet Underground imitation gets tired before the relatively short album finishes because unlike say Game Theory, they don’t try to update the source material, and like every other paisley underground band, they’re not as good as the source material. Steve Wynn gets Lou Reed’s lackadaisical delivery down, but he never manages a single lyric worth talking about (whereas Lou Reed always took great notes of what was happening around him). Worse, the guitar interplay isn’t as good as other Velvet Underground admirers to come (ie. Sonic Youth). Speaking of, “Halloween” – the album’s best song – starting at the 2:43 mark, sounds like Sonic Youth from 1995-onward; a compliment. If any of these songs do grab you, find a live version of it where the guitars aren’t so confined and chances are you’ll never want to play the studio one again.