Album Reviews

Sound Team – Movie Monster

(Parlophone) UK release date: 25 September 2006

It’s reassuring to know that hiding beneath some awkward indie-kid’s cloak of willful obscurity there lurk some with an unstoppable pop pulse. They must suffer the taunts and jibes of their glum-fringed colleagues as another bubblegum melodies breaks for cover from their wayward chord progressions and intense singing to bleat out a guilty �na-na-na’ chorus. Guilty pleasures? Right on!

The six-headed monster that is Sound Team has crawled from the murk of Austin, Texas to present this homemade indie rock masterpiece. Oft compared to TV On The Radio and Broken Social Scene for their wayward approach to current trends, Sound Team may well be one of the more interesting and enduring of the latest batch of indie heroes to endure beyond ‘next month’s thing’.

It bursts into life and with hooks, and pulse with tension on teaser opener Get Out, thrumming along to military drum rolls and processional organ before dropping proper into Born To Please. With its fuzzed chords chiming in a widescreen landscape (“standing on firm ground that I invented”) pepperings of organs and wayward guitars spiralling off over harmony choruses of angst (“falling in love with someone”) this could well be the ’80s again. Without the dodgy hair.

While it would be easy to lump them into a pigeonhole of revivalists were it not for their wayward approach to styles and their sheer inventiveness, it would be like kicking a puppy which came back for more.

Musically they take the best bits of a host of choppy, star-gazing guitar bands filtered through a Krautrock influence and lyrically they shimmer between direct and the abstract without sounding too artsy. But suddenly, in the space of two songs, we’re in completely different territory as guitars are replaced with keyboards. This shift in style makes for some engaging listening but does tend to pose the question of what Sound Team really sound like?

Title track Movie Monster rides a stately clipped motorik electro pulse. TV Torso is like Franz Ferdinand doing techno, which is no bad thing as it which marries a post-punk Kraftwerk with a brutal seismic bass line and shimmering echo drums.

Back In Town is pure American indie-pop bliss that bears its cutesy teeth for the camera (“nine thousand neckties…polaroids can’t stand up on their own”) but is like The Strokes out of character playing nice with the other kids.

The anthemic Your Eyes Are Liars possesses the kind of shimmering guitar and simple bass work of vintage Echo and the Bunnymen, albeit from a sunnier American perspective that like all good tunes you wish could go on that little bit longer… Shattered Glass serves up more muscular post-punk atmospherics with taut rhythms jostling among squiffy organ solo breakdowns and insistent, claustrophobic vocals.

Afterglow Year and You’ve Never Lived a Day arrive in a swirl of exquisitely hazy sonics before the anthemic ennui of the epic/live staple Handful of Billions reveals a U2-inflected ambition amidst the punchy rhythm, rolling percussion and very Edge-like guitar work.

Movie Monster remains a fun, bundle of energy while it lasts – track by track, at least. But without a central identity, the overly-generic name Sound Team seems like too apt a description. Sound Team’s Movie Monster ultimately tries too hard to straddle the gulf between blockbuster and cult classic and ends up stretched on overall identity but provides a hook-heavy, happy journey along the way that you won’t mind revisiting.

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Sound Team – Movie Monster