Album Reviews

Steriogram – Schmack!

(EMI) UK release date: 15 November 2004

Steriogram - Schmack! Steriogram, the New Zealand five-piece who recently shot to fame with their single Walkie Talkie Man’s prominent feature in the iPod adverts release the album Schmack!, which is indeed a good way to describe their music.

Opener Roadtrip begins sounding like Brits Terrorvision which, to be honest, worries me slightly. However it progresses into resembling something found on a movie soundtrack and its title conveniently implies this. Like most of the songs on the album, Tyson’s rapping vocals charge over the guitars and often, especially on the title track and Fat And Proud, can be closely associated with the Beastie Boys.

With Walkie Talkie Man being placed near the beginning, the opening moments of the album are the most powerful and leave the middle section to be branded as boring, dull and uninspired. Was The Day attempts to imitate Sum 41 whilst using previous Steriogram riffs to create a song that will put the skip button to use. The 2001 debut single release White Trash is also in a similar vein – the repetitive beat is testing enough to put someone in a coma.

Luckily for Steriogram, the tracks from In The City to the eventual closer On and On makes up for the blip. The Eric Clapton and Nirvana inspired sounds that surface on In The City provides a mature rock anthem, with clear strong harmonic vocals that are combined with the traditional Steriogram rapping/quick talking.

Go manages to mix Nirvana, Silverchair circa Freak and Weezer in a three minute song and the vocals even slur like Kurt Cobain. Tsunami’s lyrics of “So we’re here alone again, I was wondering if you think I’m a mess. What is the point of this?” is the darker alternative side to the band’s tales of a Walkie Talkie Man and pleas of being Fat and Proud (“The bigger the man, the bigger the tan”).

Then, with all the commotion and hubbub of the guitar fuelled music, suddenly, Kapow! (or Schmack! in Steriogram terms), the pace changes and Be Good To Me, with lyrics such as “Can I thank you for each day, days I don’t deserve” and “Your tears light up my smile” add to one of the highlights of the album that contrasts with the overall sound of the CD beautifully. The song’s ballad nature gives a spin to Steriogram’s general impression and shows that they can experiment with softer sounds as well as their soon to be trademark loudness.

The closing track, On and On, boasts American alt rock and ends the album on a sound which sums up Steriogram – catchy rhythmic guitar-driven rock. They aren’t just one hit wonders and Schmack! is definitely a release the band should be proud of.

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