The Explosion - Black Tape
Alex Worsnip 28/03/2005
Does the world need another new punk-pop band? Stupid question. No - be fair - The Explosion aren't strictly speaking new - apparently they've been plugging away for some years, and have been finally unearthed by some record company boss trying to cash in on the recent spate of identical bands. Which means that even if this did come first it certainly doesn't sound fresh. But let's give them that one for the sake of argument, because it doesn't even matter when the style is watered-down, derivative, over-polished, and least forgivably, boring. The Explosion aren't quite as facile as someone like, say Blink-182, rather they practice a slightly darker, even slightly metal-influenced sound, inflected with gruesome angst, as evidenced by the almost entirely black cover (novel!) Behind the layers of overdriven guitars,of course, lie the same old poppy sensibilities of the rest of their ilk.
Like most of that ilk, as well, there's some shallow, tired political messages - reminiscent of latter-day Green Day - on 'No Revolution' and 'Hollywood Sign'. Ultimately, though, the seriousness of the angst and the desire to be as punk as possible send this record crashing down.Behind the 'intensity' and 'energy', of course, they present nothing particularly exciting or new. It's churlish to put these kind of American punk-rawk records next to The Clash and The Ramones, but when the band takes pain to reference them in their literature, it's unavoidable, and of course no amount of powerchords, shouty vocals or quick-fire drums can imbue them with the genuine purpose and revolutionary ground-breaking of those bands. Some tracks are better than others - 'I Know' is about as good as this genre comes - but, as you plough through chorus after chorus that manages the not inconsiderable feat of having everything that's bad about poppiness in music - the superficiality, the disposability, the lack of adventurousness - without actually being memorably tuneful, particular lowlights being 'Here I Am' and the truly terrible (especially lyrically) 'Mothers Cry'. The production squeezes any possible rawness out of it, despite their 'underground' label. At the end of the day, worse has been committed to record, and if you do like this kind of music, you could do worse. But for the rest of us? At the risk of sounding obvious, I'll take The Clash's eponymous debut, thanks.