Homage is all fine and good, but, well, look at this way: Jet. They came, they saw, they wrote at least one song that everyone could happily bawl along to when they’ve drunk sufficient alcohol to cripple a rhino, and then they ended. With a monkey drinking his own piss. Literally. Metaphorically. Creatively. A monkey. Gulping down. His own piss.
Deap Vally aren’t Jet. They aren’t boorish, leery and borderline offensive, nor are they dressed like a homeless AC/DC tribute band. But then again, they don’t have a song as dumbly memorable as Are You Gonna Be My Girl. Then again again the musical influences are similar. But then again again lots of bands have taken those swampy-bluesy queues and managed to become more than the sum of them. Hell, a lot of them even managed to do it as a two piece. So where does that leave us? Jet without the songs, sorry, song? The White Stripes without the invention? The Black Keys without the billions of sales? What elevates Deap Vally beyond the h-word?
Houston, we’ve found the problem. Nothing. Everything here is present and correct: the vocals howl, the guitars squall, they have a Jack White endorsed, I don’t need a bassist, I’ve got a low E string approach to band membership. The boat (yes, this gig is on a boat) rocks along as they stomp through the sweaty thirty minute set. It’s all perfectly well displayed, but none of it sticks.
There is a certain Joan Jett glam-rock slap to recent single Gonna Make My Own Money, with its hair-shaking gender inversions of bluesy stereotypes, Your Love’s A Lie has a relentlessly peaking riff and some nice harmonics, but none of it sticks.
There is an easy-going chemistry between them. There is a ‘aw-shucks’ humbleness to their personas. Lindsey Troy has a voice which goes from evangelical preacher to screaming banshee with ease and Julie Edwards bashes the skins with a Bonham-aping weight and a rollicking freedom, but none of it sticks.
There’s nothing wrong, and yet nothing right enough to make you care. They haven’t got anything substantial enough to set up home in and the approach of treating volume and fuzzy reverb as something that can be used to paper over the cracks is not going to get approval from any structural engineer worth their salt. It’s not unenjoyable, but its ultimately just formulaic and unadventurous. The female Jet? Oh God, let’s hope not.