Tuesday, August 14, 2007

let's play the exclamation point game!

alas!, poor tan! if thunderbirds are now! and the go! team hadn't emerged around the same time, tan! might stand a chance of being the coolest band with a ! in their name (i don't personally like !!!, thank you very much). anyway, the fact that tan! and the go! team sound somewhat similar doesn't really help, because the go! team is, actually, much better than thunderbirds are now! at the spastic pop thing, as tan!'s third effort, make history, proves (also, their inclusion in forget remember when isn't really a ringing endorsement either).

i've tried hard to like make history, but it's time to face the facts: there's really only one great track on the album, and that's "why we war." if every tan! song sounded like "why we war," then pitchfork would be premiering their video this week, instead of this one. it's not that the other songs on make history are flops, they're just missing the little bit of oomph "why we war" has, unfortunately. and oomph is exactly why "why we war," in fucking spades. jagged, angular, with more than a daub of political angst, "why we war" comes right in the middle of the album, when you start to realize that you might've made a mistake in buying it. "why we war" is placed back-to-back with the other standout song on the album, "sound issues/smart ideas," and you start to cheer up, thinking that maybe make history just got off to a slow start - but no, it's just rather plain throughout, actually.

okay, "plain" sells make history short. it is filled with vibrancy, excitement, and spastic melodies, and i have been known to jump around and thrash to it, in the privacy of my own home. but it gets repetitive, and fast. "the veil comes down," the album's second track, is more worth skipping than sitting through, and the semi-ballad "shit gold," while adopting a different style than most tan! songs, isn't worth much either. but "why we war" is propelled mostly by ryan allen's nasalized shout/singing and a regular beat, and a sweet-ass breakdown chorus with some kind of synthesizer. tan! achieves a balance on this song - it is compelling not merely because the melody is more pleasing, or easier to dance to, but because it is not over the top, stuffed to the point of overflow with effects and angles. "why we war" is assured, straightforward, and has a maracas (always worth bonus points). mostly, however, "why we war" is make history's best track because it simply rocks. even with the maracas and synth and other fun bits, "why we war" is simple - it makes you want to dance, maybe yell out a "fuck bush" just for fun, and doesn't require all that much from the listener - and, really should a dancepunk song do more than that?

thunderbirds are now! - "why we war." buy make history on frenchkiss here.

p.s. - i counted 18 exclamation points, not counting the one in the title.

p.p.s. - here's a video from a band with more than one good song with lots of exclamation points.

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