Whatever quibbles we level at bands we’re unsure of, we should rejoice that albums which exhibit an almost terminal lack of redeeming features populate the release schedules with relative scarcity. Sadly, for Discovery at least, theirs is an album that defiantly shuns the trend.
Discovery is the two-piece side project of Ra Ra Riot front man Wes Miles and Vampire Weekend keyboard player, Rostam Batmanglij. Given the successes of the duo’s respective bands of late, it would be justified for some to work themselves into a fluster about this project, but should you have any expectations of greatness, they are regrettably lofty.
What aims at being a leftfield electro-pop album is in reality a pallid yawn-inducer, devoid of passion, and with a mind-erasing nescience of any hooks. Think Alaska In Winter, only with even less charisma.
The bottom line is that Discovery’s self-titled debut has no good songs. From the opening Orange Shirt to the closing Slang Tang, it fails to engage. Even a guest appearance from Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig on Carby fails to drag Discovery from its gloopy swamp of mind-numbing soullessness.
The synthesized drums and rhythms are relentlessly uninventive and when Discovery try to be outlandishly experimental the results sound more like hubristic over-indulgence rather than anything inspiringly brilliant or jaw-droppingly brain-mangling. Orange Shirt, Carby, and It’s Not My Fault (It’s My Fault) are all cases in point.
Their lot is hardly improved by the tragic coincidence of attempting to instil the album with something accessible by covering The Jackson 5‘s I Want You Back, what with Jacko’s untimely departure. But be the King of Pop dead or alive, the cover is still awful. The hazy synths and dizzy vocoders will represent sacrilege to Jacko’s mourning mega-fans.
So Insane’s chorus is bearable, but the only other saving grace is that Discovery is a short album, and releases its listener from the throes of boredom in under half an hour. But Discovery is an album that genuinely sounds half-finished. Worse still, it prompts a worrying suspicion that people will be interested regardless, purely because of the duo’s successful bands.
Unfortunately being in a good band does not give the members carte blanche to journey off on half-baked, wayward digressions and expect people to care. A Discovery best forgotten.