Polite rock. Dontcher just love it? Manc five-piece McKinney try to breathe some life into the slightly embarrassed corpse of femme-fronted rock, a la Primitives or Transvision Vamp. Which wouldn’t be such an appalling proposition if there were a hint of charm, grace or bounce about these fetid tunes. Sounding like the soundtrack to an album-length gloomy Tampax advert, you sure ain’t gonna be able to roller skate or hang-glide when this album period is in effect.
Named appropriately enough after Joyce McKinney, the woman at the centre of “The Case of the Manacled Mormon”, the band McKinney tread the sprawling motorway pile-up that is the tried and tested route of a wailing woman in torment. Cheers. So we get a whole heap of cheating, feckless men being rubbished, opportunities soured, dreams smashed, yada, yada, yada. It’s one thing to have therapy, it’s another to inflict it as entertainment. Two words. Alanis. Morrisette.
Everyday finds Marc Ash (she’s a girl by the way) swooping in a vain attempt at creating a hook, but the tune is caught and left flapping on dry land. Echoes of Garbage and their inspiration, Curve (without the electro edge or menace) are aimed at through the rock posturing, but it falls flat and hollow and sounds remarkably unremarkable.
Stripped Invisible tries to canter along on a staccato drumbeat and mewling backing vocals above a tune that begs to be put out of its misery. The main problem is the formulaic tunes, lashing menacing half-spoken verses to rock-out choruses. The song remains the same and it weren’t too pretty the first time round.
Wedding Dress is the surprise in the bunch, possessing a low slung bluesy shake to its acousticness that for once allows the tune to breathe and Marc Ash’s voice to shine through, unplagued by rock geetar onsluaght. It could call to mind Cat Power, Liz Phair and just a teeny hint of Neko Case if you close your eyes. Alas this is the exception, not the rule.
From the sublime, it’s straight back into heads-down, no-sense, shake and fake of Don’t let Me Down, which for all its ‘doo, doo-doo doo’ backings and cutesyness it falls for the Ronseal-isms of ‘doing exactly what it says on the tin’.
The problem is that this pony is merely cantering alongside the thoroughbred elegance of The Raveonettes or a whole stable of other equally well-versed runners and riders.
As a live band they have received rave reviews, and possibly if they find their own voice McKinney could be a band to be reckoned with. But on the strength of this album, it is merely a derivative retread of better albums. Raped by rock? Hell yeah, but like making a dog walk on its back legs, you know its wrong , but you secretly hope they like it. Kill someone else, not my ears.