In the late 1990s, the album Water and Solutions by Sacramento’s Far introduced intensely melodic elements into an otherwise radio-snubbing grunge sound. Since then, these tuneful elements have been adopted by bands such as Jimmy Eat World, making millions from providing guitar-heavy “emo” tracks that teenagers could sing to. Bands such as these, however, have written some excellent music. New York’s Cute Is What We Aim For, the latest Myspace-driven, lip-pierced, floppy fringed twerps, prove that this is a trait that has now gone too far.
This irritating four-piece are described by lead singer Shaant as “power pop with intellectual lyrics”, and is difficult to determine whether his name or his comment is more misguided. As opening track “Newport Living” enters its first mute-chord breakdown the singer chants, “If you lie, you don’t deserve to have friends” and just too further his point adds, “If you lie, you don’t deserve to have them”. Pure poetry. Also look out for the word “chillin'” in the chorus.
The following two tracks follow in similar emo-punk fashion, opening with a blast of melodic riffery and double-time drum beats, flowing into undeniably smooth but uninspiring sing-along choruses. Things do improve with the slower-paced “Risqu�”, even if the song does smack of Dashboard Confessional. This adolescent lament is an inoffensive and gentle listen, but is slightly let down by the exhaustive repetition of the chorus “what’s a crush to do when he can’t get through?”.
It is these less punk-fuelled numbers that prove the strongest moments, with lyrical lies standing out in particular through its extreme simplicity. With gently strummed acoustic guitar, coupled with string samples and tender vocals, this is a song sure to make the end credits of the OC, if it hasn’t already. Unfortunately moments such as these are overridden by tracks such as “The Curse of Curves”, in which Shaant reveals yet more lyrical originality through professing that the object of his affections “had me at hello”. The supreme arrogance of lines such as “I’m too hip to keep tight lipped” are enough to turn attention away from the vocals, but the musicianship here is the kind of twinkling-yet-bruising pop-punk that can has been done to death. Perhaps a track to forget.
Closing track “Teasing to Please” is far and away the best that this album has to offer, which at least leaves things on something of a high. The band manages to combine its more successful intimate side with a more upbeat, less generic guitar section, resulting in something far more powerful and distinctive than the preceding numbers. Shaant has a habit of holding notes far longer than is necessary, but here it somehow seems to fit, as the album signs off with something undeniably pleasant.
Pleasant, though, is scant consolation for an album that hardly possesses a shred of originality. “The Same Old Blood Rush…” will attract swarms of internet love, but this unstable foundation, built upon the fleeting dreams of thirteen year-olds, is likely to restrict the band’s longevity. Sounding like Panic! At The Disco without the bounce or the creativity, takes the bastardisation of honest musical forms to new heights. Kids are smarter than this, surely.