If you had to place The Most Terrifying Thing after one listen,chances are it wouldn’t be in Liverpool, and in all probability not the UKeither. No, for me the first place that springs to mind is Seattle, due toa couple of traits essential to the music of this quartet.
The first comes from singer Chris Price, whose voice soundssomething like a combination of Counting Crows and early EddieVedder, and is one of the band’s most marketable qualities. The secondis a little less complimentary – a tendency to rely on the quiet-loudformula that has characterised rather too much rock music of this ilk sinceNirvana. More worrying than this, though, is the opening track’salarming tendency to do a Nickelback with the lyrics; “I don’texpect you to understand, but I was programmed to be alone”. It’s just aswell the navel gazing ends there, or we might have been considering thefrightening thought of Britain’s answer to Chad Kroeger.
If you like the Canadian rockers, my apologies. Stick around though, asyou’ll like what you hear on this record, only with arguably much higherquality. Once into their stride, The Most Terrifying Thing show a pleasingtendency to rock out with natural abandon, no airs or graces needed.Programmed demonstrates this in an agreeably powerful coda that takes upthe mantle, embellished by Silent Type’s impressive guitar work, foundagain towards the close. This is one of several songs that benefit fromPrice’s direct vocal singing, and when he complains; “I feel left out,no-one knows this”, you feel his pain.
The band clearly know a good intro when they hear one, and some of the trackspunch out a solid beginning as a statement of intent. Recent single ThingsAlways Change is a case in point, but here as elsewhere there is also afragile side. Price’s voice cracks with emotion when dealing with Pain &Problematics – and also on Always In The Way – which may have an awkward wordsetting but is curiously effective. Sometimes it all gets too much though,and an attempt to funk things up on Tiamo falls flat, seemingly a tale of acouple who can’t decide if they’re better off as friends but ending updropping between the two.
The only problem with this is it feels like music that’s been around forquite some time. Plenty to commend the songs for sure, but the musicallanguage would have seemed much more relevant in 1995. Eleven years on, andsolid though the riffing is, it feels just a touch weary. A bit morerhythm, for sure, but the central part of the album in particular remainsearthbound.
This shouldn’t put you off from investigating the band though, as thepositives outweigh the negatives comfortably. Tracks like Silent Typegenuinely lift the senses to a higher plane, and if the band can build onthis promise, their development will be interesting to chart. One to keepon the radar.