So, its a buffalo are one of Liam Fray’s favourite new bands. That doesn’t bode well for the Mancunian trio. The Courteeners have an impressive amount of fans, but have you met one? They are as rare as Nickelback fans. Both bands sell a slew of records, but who buys them remains mysterious. DFS enthusiasts, maybe?
Therefore, being labeled by a mediocre frontman of a mediocre band as his favourite band, and then using it as a main marketing tool, does not bode well. What’s the point of climbing atop a crumbling gravel hill of success? Plus, comparisons become the first port of call. For one, will fans of The Courteeners, wherever they are, support its a buffalo? Will Liam’s success rub off here? Does it matter? The answer, for all these questions, is probably not.
Don’t Be Scared is a fumbling garage rock record disguised as a jaunt into rockabilly and alternative country. Songs are plucked and strummed to death while drums plod alongside, whacking nuance into submission with an inebriated flair akin to The Strokes‘ poorer moments, or even early Orange Juice. Yet, as these blessed tracks come and go, a theme emerges, one that hinders its a buffalo, rather than abets them. It feels, intrinsically, that they want to be a country band, and in such try too hard to achieve this.
For one, the band makes deliberate mistakes throughout each song, as if they recorded the record whilst leathered. The vocal work is consistently out of tune, and backing accompaniment shouts in between melodies, creating a competition on whose vocal work, the lead or the back-up, that can ruin the moment more. Plus, the band is often temporally off the mark. On Divorce Song, the marimba accoutrement accenting the instrumental refrain is one step removed from where it needs to be, and one octave too high to enhance.
And this is the story throughout; anything worthwhile gets slurred up in a disorganized ethos that emphasizes the garage over the studio, or the booze over the brawn. Whenever the band finds a decent chord progression to manipulate, take the debut single Seaside or finale Run And Hide for example, these flaws harm the overall feel. Through their vocals and capricious instrumentation, each try becomes too raw for pop and too messy for country.
But then again, there’s lots of punters who like messy, flawed music, as it mirrors the day-to-day more than well-produced fluidity. There’s quite a few drinking songs here, or songs best enjoyed during a night on the piss, and those endeared to the Black Lips‘ bacchanalia may find a countrified counterpart in Don’t Be Scared, as that’s what we have here. Why Liam Fray, or anyone else for that matter, has fallen in love with Don’t Be Scared is a mystery. This is an inherently flawed collection filled with songs not quite ready for, well, anything. Maybe they are a gas live, as that could be the only saving grace.