Sunday, 2 March 2014

#254: The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco - Cruise Control (EP Review)

The first thing that struck me about Essex pop-rockers The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco, aside from a name that staggers and stumbles rather than rolls off the tongue, is that the wrong Beech has been asked to review them. Indeed, it seems the task of critiquing the band should have fallen to my dad (whose appreciation of music ranges from the downright questionable, to the fantastic). Fitting then, that the band purport themselves as “proper grown up pop music”, as after just one listen of their Cruise Control EP I can already hear my dear old dad crooning along to them after a glass [Read: bottle] or two of Cab Sav.

With their target demographic clearly established, I go in to this review tentatively; at 23 I would hardly consider myself part of the band's target audience, which is what makes this review so difficult. The first track, the eponymous 'Cruise Control' does just that, it effortlessly glides towards it's conclusion, the smooth and glossy exterior juxtaposed against it's frenetic and high-tempo nature. It's obvious why the band chose this as the lead track from the EP, an early highlight, it's the track that harbours the most universal appeal.

From here on out though the “grown up pop music” really begins to make itself known. From a personal perspective, there's not a huge amount here that grabs me. Second track 'The Legend of Josi and the Juke' is an off-kilter bluesy affair in which a sleazy guitar is paired against crisp keys, and comes off sounding like one of the most competent pub bands you've ever heard whilst following track 'List Song' is a far smoother, softer outing featuring some exquisite production.

Lyrically the band perch precariously above a chasm of cliché; not quite falling, but coming dangerously close. Lyrics such as “If love is the answer, I love no-one” are wrought with a triteness that you wouldn't expect from a band who, musically, are as solid as they are. Final track 'Breakfast of Kings', whilst being another highlight, also sees the band ticking every box on the How to Write A Pop Song worksheet, and whilst “I'll take a drink with ya, I'll take one without...” might well be a lyric perfect the track's aesthetic, that or a variation on that, has also been perfect for a plethora of tracks before it.

The problem with music journalism, is that it's a purely subjective genre. Okay so most people can tell a good song from a bad song (or not as a lot of the charts suggest). But when you get down beneath the flesh, in to the blackened lungs and the failing kidneys of the genre, it all boils down to taste. There's a lot going on with The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco that is worth merit, but not a lot of it that appeals to me on a personal level, which (personally...) all my favourite music does. That said however for those who dig “A mix of 70s East Coast strut, post-punk British pop and West Coast Americana” they could probably do much worse than spend some time with The Cruise Control EP.

This review was originally written for Listen Up Manchester. Click here to check them out.