Album review by KevW
Both band name and album title suggest that we're in for more of that horrific commercial North American rock that inexplicably shifts millions of copies. It's a relief that Slam Dunk don't belong with the Nickelbacks and Orsons of this world. These guys are a much more diverse prospect and, yes, there are times when they do take a turn for the commercial but never submit to it completely. Plus, they're eclectic, throwing in different instruments and styles which has its good points and bad. On the bad side it means there are a couple of stinkers here, on the plus side, there are some cracking indie-rock tracks and should you grow weary of one particular song then there's every chance you'll like the next.
So let's look at the good: 'Dying Breed' is a triumph of powerpop with a punky edge and (possibly baritone) sax, it's pretty irresistible and sticks in the memory; the scratchy 'Da Dunda' feels born out of a jam session and harks back to the original R&B and rock 'n' roll set; the riotous rock of 'Scabies' is similar in style to The Gaslight Anthem and their ilk; 'Sass' is another where they attack the song instead of simply letting it form naturally; final track 'Fantasy' grabs you by the throat a bit more again, seemingly like the band mean every word and every note is important. It's more of this determination and passion that's needed to take Slam Dunk to the next level. Too much here is missing that level of enthusiasm, and this has a tendency to rub off on the listener.
Now let's look at the less good: 'Can't Stand It' aims for anthemic but instead slips into arena bore-rock, there's no need for that kind of guitar solo, it sounds bloated and indulgent; 'Horse Bumper 1' seems directionless, like some instruments scraping around to try and find a tune; 'Peter' is nothing but filler. There's missed opportunities too. 'Why Can't I Change' has a nice twangy, surf sound, it just needs a song to go with it; 'Runner' sounds very American (the band are actually Canadian despite the album title) and again just isn't quite strong enough on the song front, although the piano-led second half just about saves the day. 'Welcome To Miami' is a fairly good album, but if they let fly and committed themselves more fully to their music they have the ability to make a great one.
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