The Golden Age - Stella Stuntman
Bill Cummings 29/08/2006
Sometimes a band split and although it's sad, it's a good thing for all involved, some of thee members go solo, some form new and better bands, some go in new exciting musical directions. Other times the dreaded words "we split because of musical differences" simply mean "we fell out". In the case of Sheffield's The Golden Age, that's the only reason I can give for parting company with their previous singer and the major shift in direction since their last rather charming art/indie rock demo passed by my ears. Now with new singer Nick Cooper safely installed according to their bio, The Golden Age are playing "up tempo, old school, new broom rhythm and blues streaight out of Sheffield". Yes, the alarm bells were ringing before I even pressed play too. There's nothing neccessarily wroing with all of the above, I like to have a good time, its just clichéd, hoary old rhythm and blues isn't my idea of it.
Track One "Hallamshire" kicks in and my worst suspicions are confirmed, Primal scream guitar riffs buzz into view, and then there's the vocal faux American, nonsense, sure it hits all the notes but its just a standard rock and roll voice, even the fella from Kasabian has more balls, and personality, this is freeze dried rock n roll vocalisation lacking in personality , and the lyrics aren't up to much either ( You did a girl up on the rooftop/While her bloke was at the bar/I would have loved to have been there that night /But I'm sure I'd never have took it that far") Musically this isn't techincally "bad" in fact the sound is good, and everythings in its right place, but thats the problem its too well executed its too tight and toned, it lacks personality, it lacks anything decidedly new or individual, its bland.The press release may continue to assert that "this" is the real sound of "Blues and Rock and Roll" I beg to differ what about Little Richard, Chuck Berry and The Beatles?This is a copy of a copy of a copy.
Second track "Don't Drink The Water" is possibly more farcical, sounding like Orson doing a Stones impression, the uptempo good time rock n roll is present and correct: handclaps and a "bustin" Black Sugar-esque rhythm but quite frankly I'd rather be listening to the Blues Brothers album I've got upstairs. About halfway through there's a guitar break down that's mildly reministant early Oasis but crucially it lacks, the dirty squalling swagger. "Year Of The Rat" is quite frankly more of the same with silly lyrics: " These four walls well they have no meaning/They're just legs for the ceiling" and a predictable chorus. About halfway through there's a guitar break down that's mildly reministant of early Oasis but crucially it lacks the dirty squalling swagger of the Madchester lot.
I'll give them credit, "Fever" is a slight variation on the forumula, its rockabilly-ish start, and stomping drum, vocals and guitars chorus are probably the best most tuneful things here, but again the lyrics about an ex-girlfriend are simply too silly to ever be more than rock and roll cliché. To add insult to injury and to further define the differences between old Golden age and new Golden Age, they have reworked an old track "Used To Be A Stripper" with the new vocalist. Giving it a decidedly "wah wah" rock n roll spin, it's still a stomping, stop start number with witty, late night lyrics and a storming chorus, but its been santised, the new singer lacks the previous vocalist's passion, and the taught Futureheads art rock sound that made it so good first time round has been dispensed with.
Maybe its just a case of "this isn't my kind of thing," and sure a few of these tunes might make your dad nod his head for a few minutes down the local on a Friday, but five tracks of it? It's a bit wearing, yes. And there's the rub where, as their old sound wasn't recorded in the legendary "2 fly" high tech studio, it had a charm that isn't present here, its tetchy art rock meeting tales of dark dank indie clubs had a sense of personality and place, that this new direction so patently lacks.