Release Date: 02.05.08
I once heard baseball guru Peter Gammons theorize that Shawon Dunston–shortstop for the Cubs with little patience but talent out the butt hole and a cannon for an arm–might become a great baseball player when he’s slowed down a little in a 30-year-old body rather than his keyed up 22-year-old body. The success Dunston enjoyed in his early years came about through raw, natural talent, but his adoration for curve balls in the dirt kept him from the higher echelons. The Jet Age strikes me to be at a similar point in their musical career. They obviously have the ability to play hard and fast, and I am the last man on earth to preach the “how about you slow things down” school. But on their latest release, I believe patience would have served them better than pure energy.
There’s nothing wrong with being straightforward rock for 100% of your album and I love these guys for trying, but heightening must occur somewhere (in an album and in a song) for things to keep from being repetitive. “Stale” should be the last word coming to mind for a band with the power Jet Age commands and for all their faults these songs point the way to what must be a fantastic live show. These are good musicians with good ideas but they seem to get undone by a) a questionable production mix that tends to rob power chords of their power, and b) an over reliance on Keith-Moon-drum-fill intros to songs. That combination gets old when it’s applied five songs in a row and we arrive at that word again — the word these guys should sound nothing like! — Stale.
When the songs are there, however, they cook. “O, Calendar” best illustrates this with developed tension followed by a bridge to lure us in before exploding beyond where we’ve been. “I Said,’Alright’” gets things going as well, with Eric Tischler’s vocals weaving a weird mix between Ben Folds and MC5′s Rob Tyner. It’s simple and clean and rockin’ and that’s when The Jet Age are at their best. They’re very ambitious and that’s appreciated, but this album feels like they set out to hit a 6-run homerun when a double would have won the game.