Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Satellite Tragedy - 'New Beautiful'

Dark. Ethereal. Kind of boring. That’s pretty much how I’d describe New Beautiful, the debut album from Vancouver, Canada’s Satellite Tragedy. The synth-y alt-rock duo is at their best when at their weirdest, which sadly doesn’t come into play until the record’s second half or so. The album’s first half, meanwhile, goes for more traditional rock fare, like on the Nirvana-esque “Ethanol,” which makes Nevermind sound that much better.

Not that I’m going to slag Satellite Tragedy for trying out different ideas. New Beautiful is an eclectic mix with a slightly lacking success ratio. The fanfare of intro track “New Beautiful” is attention-grabbing, but squandered on mild rocker “In My Head Again.” “Inside Your Skin” feels like a more natural approach for the band, opening with a static-y beat and whispered vocals before exploding into a huge chorus. It’s far from great, but it’s promising, even if “Gone” recycles the approach with weaker results.

But things do start to turn around by the 60-second sixth track, “Out of My Mind.” It’s another Nirvana homage with a shade of Big Black, but the punk aggression is executed better. What makes it weird is that the record starts to get interesting after that, but does so by completely ignoring any semblance of adrenaline. “Tonight,” which the band dedicated to Deftones bassist and coma victim Chi Cheng, has a slinking, spacey vibe that envelops the listener, while “SP-117” slowly focuses that ambience. “This Unknown” and “Interference” continue this feeling. As far as I’m concerned, that’s where New Beautiful ends, as the real concluding track, “Goodbye,” is kind of a drip.

Satellite Tragedy’s most successful songs are generally their most lethargic ones, and even that happens too infrequently. I can’t recommend Satellite Tragedy to anyone, but I’m not exactly going to write the group off either. The band could go a few ways, be it more brainless grunge or perhaps some sort of Dntel electronic route, or even into spacier territory. Or hey, there’s always a free form jazz odyssey. With a new album already in the can, Satellite Tragedy might just be getting started. So here I am, ya canuckleheads. Entertain me.

1 comment:

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