Album Review

They say there's nothing funnier than a Czech rock band. Well, it is not entirely true. What is even funnier? The answer is obvious: A Czech post-rock band. By some strange twist of fate, a record called Brace for impact has found its way into my mailbox. The name caught my attention, as well as the cute paper booklet and hand-made graphics. But a few minutes later, I realized that the name of the record should be taken seriosuly. What happened? Well, hard to tell, hard to forget.

While I am far from being a post-rock aficionado, I have liked a few band that are normally considered post-rock. I liked the epic, melancholic grandeur of GY!BE, the dreamy abstract soundshowers of Sigur Rós, or the furious break-beat intensity of 65daysofstatic. This is just to assure that the so called "post-rock aesthetic" is something I am able to appreciate and savour. Nevertheless, none of these qualities can be found over the course of the 30 minutes long disc of these ambitious Czechs who call themselves Ufajtr.

Eastern europe has never been a breeding ground of quality rock music. As usual, anglo-american music trends arrived there with considerate delay and sparked a response that borders on parody. Not knowing where to start I just pick at random: The ridiculous vocals are the first disaster of many. Pretentious like Eddie Vedder, fake like Matt Bellamy, sappy like Bono, but far, far below all of these, the lead singer is a walking disaster, not to mention his ridiculous accent, that renders even the more bearable parts of the lyrics completely useless.

But that is just the beginning, because the songs show a desperate effort to be classy and on par with some of the more interesting bands of todays indie scene: While listening, I could point fingers at guitar parts, drum figures and sound "effects" that sounded exactly like Asobi Seksu, the aforementioned 65daysofstatic (the shameless rip-off, aptly called Superdamaged) or Efterklang. In one word: derivative. A funnier fact is this: willing to sound modern, these guys are actually more 70's than they would be willing to acknowledge. Pink Floyd, King Crimson and 70's era ELO are at the real heart of these songs. But, again, it is a heart that is, figuratively speaking, bleeding. Dated piano arpeggios and powerchords repeated over and over, big, pathetic arena-artrock sound, long songs linked with wannabe noisy intermezzos... you name it.

Don't get me wrong, these guys might be talented. But they obviously have no taste of music. This album could have been a blast 15 or more years ago, today it is just a sad nuisance. I would really like to hear a czech, polish, or slovakian record that would sound good, but the cultural delay is maybe still too big. (Speaking of too big delay, its not only cultural but also soundlike. To hear the same delay-feedback trick over and over, that too is not my idea of a good music experience.)

To end this I would like to say: guys, learn English, get fresh ideas, rehearse more, write recognizable songs with recognizable sound, and it could be not that bad. But so far, the only positive fact I can pinpoint is the complete absence of falsetto, because this vocal register has lately become one of the most annoying clichés in the history of music.

Steve Rumsack, May 12, 2010