The Static Age – i/o
It’s not a fair comparison nor even a particularly accurate one, but the first artist that popped into my head when I first listened to i/o, the new EP from Vermont’s The Static Age, is Chris Rea. Yes, him of ‘The Road to Hell’ fame, the Middlesborough singer-songwriter who’s been churning out banal pop tunes for over three decades. I can’t think why I’m reminded of Chris Rea – I think perhaps the opening track ‘Damages’ has some of its trademarks in its crooned line “they won’t keep you safe” and synth/keys – and it faintly disturbs me that I am. Based solely on the band’s name I’d been half-expecting something Misfits-flavoured.
Well, fortunately i/o isn’t derivative old horror-punk and nor is it much like, hrrrgh, ‘Fool (If You Think It All Over)’ or ‘On The Beach’ or other tunes your dad may have listened to. Unless your dad is younger than mine and kinda hip: The Static Age play poppy, faintly dreamy post-punk that’s got a sort of proto-goth feel too it. It’s not the itchy and experimental post-punk of Wire or the progressive funk-punk of Gang of Four, but more akin to the artists branded as dream-pop – Siouxsie & the Banshees, maybe, or Cocteau Twins.
So, we have slightly gloomy synths, twinkling keys, heavily repeated vocal lines and guitar riffs with lots of chorus and delay effects. The songs are well-written and structured with a good flow to them and some pleasant melodies and hooks – particularly ‘These Days’, my favourite song on the EP, or closing track ‘Rorschach’, an understated and softly atmospheric tune – but I have to admit that overall it’s too 80s and earnest for my tastes. Still, they’ve toured or played with bands as diverse as A Place To Bury Strangers, AFI, Tiger Army and Cave In so they’ve obviously got something.